I was at a 40th birthday party this weekend where calls of “40 is the new 20” abounded. Ok, so maybe it would make a better soundbite if we were number one this year, or even 4 like last year. But I’m more than happy with 5.News of Newsweek’s Green Rankings 2010 has been making its way around the blogosphere and twitter today. Dell topped the list this year, followed by HP, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, and then us. Not too shabby. But I thought that Joel Makower’s post this morning – on what the rankings mean and don’t mean – got it right. As these external rankings get more attention within companies, it’s important to keep them in perspective. I’m already getting multiple emails from people asking what the rating means, why certain companies did better than us and why some companies didn’t make the list at all. I imagine this is happening at many companies around the country (ok, I know it is since I’m getting pinged by them as well). But as Joel notes, it’s easy to over self-congratulate or to beat yourself up over falling a few spots, when in reality the raw scores among the top companies are pretty close. Next year, even if we improved our performance, we could just as easily find ourselves at #15 as other companies continue to improve their performance and raise the bar even higher. And that would really be just fine – because in the end, isn’t that the point? I repeatedly tell my colleagues and others worried or skeptical about the many lists and disparities among them – what should matter to us is that: (1) we generally perform well across all the lists, that (2) we have longevity on those lists, and (3) that we do what we can each year to learn from the lists in the aggregate to improve our performance. The Newsweek list is interesting and useful because it draws on the expertise of multiple research firms and methodologies (MSCI, TruCost, and CorporateRegister.com). It includes a mix of quantitative factors, qualitative assessments of policies, disclosure quality, and external reputation assessments. In the end, I think our best chances for getting better at measuring what is often so hard to measure, is combining multiple assessments and perspectives into our assessment of companies. There’s a lot of great work being done by rating companies today, raters who are interestingly also now subject to similar assessments as the companies they rate – check out the Rate the Raters project being completed by SustainAbility for more background on the challenges and best practices in the sustainability rating industry today. All that said, I am at the end of the day incredibly proud of Intel’s performance on this and many of the other lists out there (including our inclusion at the #12 spot in last week’s 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Index by BCCCC and Reputation Institute). In my view, we do well because of our track record of disclosure and transparency, as well as our continued performance improvements led by employees all across our company, in different departments, and at many different levels. We’re certainly not perfect – no company is. But we are on a path to continue to mature corporate responsibility and sustainability practices within our company. From our renewable energy purchase commitment to linking a portion of our employee pay to environmental factors to including corporate responsibility directly in our global strategy, we strive to find new ways to embed these more deeply into our business practices. To learn more about our sustainability efforts, read our latest corporate responsibility report.
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