Is your company sustainable? A new app from Corporate Knights helps you figure it out

It is one of the wonders of the age, the ability to have the internet in your pants, to get the information you need where and when you want it on your smart phone or tablet. More and more of that information is being formatted specifically for mobile platforms, and can be more useful and easier to used than its desktop version.

A good example is the new CK Ranker app from Corporate Knights. they call it "The App for Clean Capitalism."

Corporate Knights is a Toronto-based "company focused on quantifying and animating clean capitalism drivers for decision makers." It also publishes Corporate Knights Magazine, promoting clean capitalism and publishing an annual list of the most sustainable corporations in the world. The app isn't just a repeat of the list; it not only lets you look at the information about existing companies in Canada, the United States and the world, but it lets you plug in your company's information and see how you stack up against the competition.

Criteria/Screen capture

The most important question is, what makes a company sustainable in the first place? How do you define it? Corporate Knights ranks them on the basis of 12 criteria, simplified here:

Energy Productivity: the return on energy used, dividing revenue by energy use and compared against others in the same industry.

Carbon productivity: Revenue divided by greenhouse gas emissions.

Water productivity: Revenue divided by water use.

Waste Productivity: Revenue divided by waste produced.

Innovation Capacity: Ratio of research and development investment to revenue.

% Tax paid: Here is where it gets interesting, where social responsibility is recognized as part of sustainability. No hiding in Ireland for you; paying taxes is part of being a good corporate citizen.

CEO- average worker pay: Another probably controversial criterion, looking at how many multiples the CEO gets paid over what the average employee takes home.

Pension fund status, Safety Performance, Employee turnover: How employees are treated matters.

Leadership Diversity: how many women are on the board of directors?

Clean Capitalism Pay Link: is there a mechanism for actually rewarding people for reducing emissions or improving carbon efficiency?

Hess Corporation is Number 1/Screen capture

Trying out the app:

Why do you need this kind of information in your pocket? It might help you make choices about what you buy, where you want to spend your money. Walking down the streets of Vancouver, it might help you decide whether to put your money in the Vancouver City Savings Credit Union (#1 corporate citizen in Canada) or the TD bank. (#15) Or it might just be a great way to surprise your friends, like when you learn that the #1 Clean Capitalism Ranking on the S&P 500 actually goes to an oil company, the Hess Corporation, which is completely counterintuitive.

Using the "rank my company" feature will be less fun and more work; it demands a lot of hard data that you probably won't have in your pocket. But it asks the questions that you need to know the answers for, to really understand where your company sits.

The key value in this project is the definition of sustainability; it asks questions and raises issues that probably many people haven't considered so important. There will be many who think that the number of women on the board or the amount that the CEO gets paid has nothing to do with sustainability, and others who will agree that it is a big part of the sustainability story.

The questions that it asks are as important as the answers it delivers.

From the apple app store (although I couldn't find it there and had to go to the website and connect from there)

Full disclosure: I am a contributor to Corporate Knights, writing book reviews.

Tags: Canada | Sustainable Development