This second annual
Top Corporate Watchdogs
report highlights what we see as the best independent sources of information on corporate impact. We use many of these sources in our ratings of company and fund impact at Ethos.
As a socially-conscious investor or consumer, how do you determine which corporations are fulfilling their social and environmental responsibilities (and are deserving of your money)?
Independent organizations that share a mission of corporate responsibility and accountability can help. These are organizations that research company social or environmental impact or work to change corporate behavior.
This year we started with more than 100 organizations and included the top 40 in our report.
We evaluated organizations based on several criteria (see the
methodology section for details, or the
appendix for ratings data):
relevance to UN Sustainable Development Goals,
rigor of analysis,
breadth of issues covered, and
Find out how well brands support your causes before your next trip to the store, or before you make your next investment.
Top Corporate Watchdogs
Updated September 27, 2021
= issues covered by organization
(hover for info)
As You Sow is the nation’s non-profit leader in shareholder advocacy. Founded in 1992, As You Sow harnesses shareholder power to create lasting change that benefits people, planet, and profit.
One way to use: discover best- and worst-impact companies on issues like waste, clean energy, and CEO pay ratios.
Greenpeace uses non-violent creative action to pave the way towards a greener, more peaceful world, and to confront the systems that threaten our environment.
One way to use: get involved in a campaign to protect the oceans.
Benchmarking for a better world. Building a movement to measure and incentivise business impact towards a sustainable future that works for everyone.
One way to use: find companies rated the best (and worst) on protecting human rights throughout their supply chains.
Green America harnesses ecomomic power-the strength of consumers, investors, business, and the marketplace - to create a socially just and sustainable society.
One way to use: join campaigns that support a more just, green economy.
In 2020, we launched Adasina Social Capital as a company dedicated to serving as a bridge between social justice movements and financial markets and the new home of our social justice investing strategy.
One way to use: find data on the racial justice impact of corporations.
Good Jobs First is a national policy resource center for grassroots groups and public officials, promoting corporate and government accountability in economic development and smart growth for working families.
One way to use: avoid buying from or investing in companies with significant fines related to the environment, worker safety, or another issue you care about.
CDP is a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts.
One way to use: look up ratings of company impact on climate change, water, and deforestation.
ShareAction is building the movement for responsible investment, working to transform the investment system and unlock its potential to be a force for good.
One way to use: discover best- and worst-impact asset managers on issues like climate change, biodiversity, and human rights.
JUST Capital measures and ranks companies on the issues Americans care about most so you can then act on that knowledge.
One way to use: discover US companies doing the most to build a more just, equitable future.
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) drives ambitious climate action in the private sector by enabling companies to set science-based emissions reduction targets.
One way to use: encourage your employer to set a science-based target to reduce emissions.
Global Canopy is a data-driven non-profit that targets the market forces destroying nature. We do this by providing innovative open-access data, clear metrics, and actionable insights to leading companies, financial institutions, governments and campaigning organisations worldwide.
One way to use: use datasets on country and corporate impact on deforestation.
Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy.
One way to use: discover best- and worst-performers on issues like air emissions by electric power producers.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression.
One way to use: take action to help refugees and immigrant detainees.
CorpWatch works to promote environmental, social and human rights at the local, national and global levels by holding multinational corporations accountable for their actions.
One way to use: stay informed about company actions that violate environmental, social and human rights.
B Lab creates and awards the B Corporation certification for for-profit organizations. Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
One way to use: shop and invest with certified B Corporations, which are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.
We take action against the companies and industries driving deforestation and climate change.
One way to use: join a campaign to protect rainforests.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) works to improve the lives of working people. It is the democratic, voluntary federation of 55 national and international labor unions that represent 12.5 million working men and women.
One way to use: avoid companies that have a very high CEO-to-worker pay ratio (data published by AFL-CIO).
Corporate Knights Inc. includes the sustainable business magazine Corporate Knights and a research division that produces rankings and financial product ratings based on corporate sustainability performance.
One way to use: discover top-rated companies for sustainability.
Equileap aims to make a difference, as well as a return, by accelerating gender equality in the workplace.
One way to use: find brands and companies that best support gender equality.
The #breakfreefromplastic Movement is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution.
One way to use: discover which consumer companies are the largest producers of single-use plastic.
InfluenceMap launched its corporate climate lobbying platform on the eve of the Paris Agreement in late 2015 in response to growing demand from investors and other stakeholders.
One way to use: discover which companies are lobbying for and against climate action.
Forestsandfinance.org is an initiative by a coalition of campaign and research organizations that seeks to prevent financial institutions from supporting the kind of environmental and social abuses that are all too common in the operations of many forest-risk sector clients.
One way to use: find which financial institutions are most involved in deforestation.
Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality.
One way to use: discover companies doing the most (and least) to support LGBTQ equality at the workplace, using HRC's Corporate Equality Index.
Global Forest Watch (GFW) is an online platform that provides data and tools for monitoring forests. By harnessing cutting-edge technology, GFW allows anyone to access near real-time information about where and how forests are changing around the world.
One way to use: find data for monitoring forest health.
The United Nations Global Compact is a voluntary initiative based on CEO commitments to implement universal sustainability principles and to take steps to support UN goals.
The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) is a business organization serving the public policy interests of responsible companies, their customers and other stakeholders.
One way to use: find examples of how business can play a positive role in building a more sustainable future.
We Mean Business is a global nonprofit coalition working with the world’s most influential businesses to take action on climate change.
One way to use: see examples of large corporations working to accelerate the zero-carbon transition.
Working Mother is a magazine dedicated to working mothers.
One way to use: find companies doing the most to support working mothers.
DiversityInc's mission is to bring education and clarity to the business benefits of diversity.
One way to use: find top-rated companies for diversity and inclusion, based on human capital practices and outcomes.
SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
One way to use: discover companies involved in the global arms industry.
The Climate Action Tracker is an independent scientific analysis that tracks government climate action and measures it against the globally agreed Paris Agreement aim of holding warming well below 2°C, and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.
One way to use: find out how countries are doing on limiting global warming.
Working to dismantle the prison industrial complex and end the exploitation of those it touches.
One way to use: join a campaign to end private prisons.
Our vision is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination.
One way to use: take action for racial justice.
The Enough Project supports peace and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones.
One way to use: get research related to company involvement in conflict mining.
5050 Women on Boards is an organization working to increase the percentage of women on company board of director seats in the United States.
One way to use: avoid companies that score low on the Gender Diversity Index (GDI), a ranking based on percentage of women on the board.
BSR is a global nonprofit organization that works with its network of more than 250 member companies and other partners to build a just and sustainable world.
One way to use: see examples of companies working together on issues like climate change and workers' rights.
Climate Action Campaign’s mission is to stop the climate crisis through effective policy action.
One way to use: take political action to address climate action.
The Access to Medicine Foundation stimulates and guides pharmaceutical companies to do more for the people living in low- and middle-income countries without access to medicine.
One way to use: find out which pharmaceutical companies are doing the most to make medicines, vaccines and diagnostics more accessible for people in low-income countries.
The Labour Rights Index measures major aspects of employment regulation that affect a worker during the employment life cycle in 115 countries.
One way to use: find how well your country protects labor rights.
WBCSD is a global, CEO-led organization of over 200 leading businesses working together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world.
One way to use: find examples of businesses working toward the UN Sustainable Development goals.
We scored organizations with the following criteria:
1. Relevance to pressing global issues
(30% of score).
A 1-10 rating of how relevant an organization’s research or work is to the
17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Organizations are scored based on whether they directly address one or more of the goals:
- 1: the organization does not address any of the UN SDGs
- 5: the organization indirectly addresses one or more of the UN SDGs
- 10: the organization directly addresses one or more of the UN SDGs
(10% of score). A 1-10 rating of how independent an organization is from corporations. We recognize that working closely with corporations can be both a risk and a potentially effective strategy for change. Sponsoring companies may be more likely to follow organization recommendations and change social and environmental behavior.
- 1: the organization is fully run by a corporation or group of corporations
- 4: the organization has corporate sponsors and corporate board members (board members who currently work at a multi-national corporation)
- 7: the organization has corporate sponsors or corporate board members, but not both
- 10: the organization has no corporate sponsors or corporate board members
3. Rigor and quality of analysis
(35% of score). A qualitative 1-10 assessment of the methodologies used by an organization to assess corporate impact, based on:
- Does the organization provide methodologies for its research? A score of 1 indicates no, 10 indicates yes
- 1-10 qualitative assessment of the rigor of analysis conducted. Ethos assesses the degree to which the organization uses basic statistical methods in its research (such as attempting to control for bias) and the depth of research (e.g., communicating with companies to validate information)
4. Breadth of coverage
(15% of score). A 1-10 assessment of the breadth of issues and companies covered:
- 1: the narrowest scope of companies and issues covered, relative to other organizations
- 10: the broadest scope of companies and issues covered, relative to other organizations
(10% of score). An assessment of how well-known and well-liked the organization is, based on:
- Total social media followers across LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, as of September 26, 2021
90-day global internet engagement rank from
This is an estimate of a site’s popularity, calculated using average daily visitors to the site and pageviews on the site over the past 3 months. The site with the highest combination of visitors and pageviews is ranked #1. If a site does not have enough engagement to be ranked on Alexa, it is given a score of 10,000,000 (lower than any of the organizations with a ranking on Alexa)
- Average score of reviews on publicly-available sites, if available
We convert these three metrics into a standardized 1-10 score, using basic statistical methods (standard deviation and standard scores).
Ethos is a first-of-its-kind FinTech platform for investors and consumers to align their spending with the causes they care about, including racial justice, workplace safety, climate change, LGBTQ equality, and more.
Ethos lets you select the causes you care about and get personalized ratings of companies, brands, employers and investments, based on hundreds of credible sources.