Our Ethical Ratings System

Our unique fully searchable research database is the result of over 20 years work conducting primary and secondary corporate research and systematically organising it using our ratings system. We continue to update it daily.

How we score the companies

The company ethical scores are compiled from ethical ratings.

We score each company out of 14.

We use a negative based scoring system, where a company starts with 14 and then gets marks taken away if it gets criticised in one or more of our categories.

There is one exception to this. Companies can score a positive mark under Company Ethos if they commit to certain things (e.g. Fairtrade) across their whole company group.

Ethical Consumer is the only organisation that provides fully transparent rankings of the companies behind the brands.

Subscribers to our research database can see which companies own each brand and their ethical record across all the different categories.

Each story we add to the database affects the score of a company for five years. After this period, it remains on the database but no longer impacts the company score.

Information sources

Most of our information comes from previously published sources. These sources include publications and reports by campaign groups like Oxfam, Friends of the Earth and War on Want.

We look at the daily newspapers, public records on pollution and health & safety prosecutions and use directories on the defence and nuclear industries.

We also request information directly from the companies on their environmental policies and reporting, and other policies, such as their attitude towards animal testing and to workers in their supply factories.

The ratings categories

Our ratings cover around 300 topics in 19 areas in 5 main categories:

Environment

As 'Environment' is a very broad area, we use five different categories:

  • Environmental Reporting
  • Climate Change
  • Pollution & Toxics
  • Habitats & Resources
  • Palm Oil

People

Our 'People' category is divided into five areas of research:

  • Human Rights
  • Workers' Rights
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Irresponsible Marketing
  • Arms & Military Supply

Animals

Our research on animals is divided into three main areas:

  • Animal Testing
  • Factory Farming
  • Animal Rights & Cruelty

Politics

Our research into a company's politics is divided into five areas:

  • Anti-Social Finance
  • Boycott Calls
  • Controversial Technologies
  • Political Activity
  • Tax conduct
  • Company Ethos (positive mark)