Key takeaways

  1. Revenue is not always the best basis of comparison between companies. Units of production, relative metrics (e.g., waste generated per unit of revenue/waste intensity), employee size, number of stores, or market share may be more accurate measures. Ensure companies being compared are of similar size and scale.

  2. Equivalents can also be a useful tool to rate the scale of the company's impact; try to think where the company is operating to have a relevant measure for comparison (e.g., water consumed by a Japanese company and daily/annual water intake per Japanese citizen).

  3. Remember, comparisons should be secondary to the description of total impact, used as supporting evidence.

What is the issue?

Comparison between companies or industry average can be very useful to help readers assess the impact of a business. However, this needs to be done correctly.

How and when to use them?

Certain topics can benefit from adding a comparison to benchmark the company’s impact with its competitors or industry average — for example, greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water consumption, waste production, etc.

The easiest way to benchmark companies is through their annual revenue; this data is always publicly available. Nevertheless, it is not always the most relevant, or accurate, means of comparison/indicator. We suggest using a unit of production, relative metrics (e.g., waste generated per unit of revenue/waste intensity), employee size, number of stores, or market share. If you would still like to use revenue, show another unit of comparison to ensure similar size and scale.

If you are analysing the amount of waste, greenhouse gases, or water consumed by the company, you can use equivalents. Compare it to the average amount consumed/produced per person in the country where the company operates. Then you can make a simple calculation that estimates how much waste/GHG emissions/water the company makes in terms of people. Find more about it in our dedicated guide.

You may also use the industry averages or statistics (i.e., the amount of CO2 attributed to an industry) as a benchmark to assess the impact scale of the company.

  • When providing a comparison, please specify the time period. Is it equivalent to the amount of waste produced per year or per day? This is a small but important distinction

  • Note that comparison should be secondary to the description of the total impact. For example, even if a company is doing better than a competitor or industry standards, this does not mean it has an overall positive impact. The amount of waste, air pollution, etc. the company is producing may still be quite substantial and hazardous. This should be reflected in your conclusion and your rating.

Comparisons are not mandatories. They should only be used when they follow the standards described above.

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