A New Way to Measure Corporate Social Responsibility

Developing performance standards for U.S. companies' health and safety policies and practices

    • October 29, 2012

Dates of Project: October 2010 through April 2012

Field of Work: Expanding and improving the certification system for socially responsible B corporations

Problem Synopsis: A quality standards-based certification process is needed to enable socially responsible consumers to support businesses that align with their values, and to help investors drive capital to higher-impact investments, as measured by social responsibility.

Synopsis of the Work: The project team worked with a 12-member Health and Safety Working Group to revise its existing rating system in the areas of health and safety issues affecting companies; created a second version of its certification system to cover an additional class of companies; and developed best practices guides and case studies.

Key Results: The project team:

  • Expanded and improved the metrics in its rating system relating to health and safety issues for small to medium-sized businesses by adding 20 new items to its assessment questionnaire
  • Developed a new large-company version of its certification system for companies with 250+ employees, thus expanding the scope of businesses that can be covered by B corporation standards
  • Developed four best practices guides and two case studies on companies demonstrating excellence in their health, health care, and safety practices, as models for companies to use in improving their social and environmental performance



The comprehensive rating system looks at individual practices in the context of the whole. Project Director Houlahan says, "You could have a beautiful green company that still treats its employees terribly. A comprehensive rating system will capture this."

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In 2010, 40,000 companies had charters requiring them to conduct business in a way that considers the interests of societal stakeholders.