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Walk the Talk

25 November, 2022

There’s a lot of talk by businesses. But how much are they matching what they say with what they do? Does the walk go with the talk? 

In an effort to interrogate this, Tortoise Media has released the latest Responsibility 100 Index; a ranking of FTSE 100 companies on their commitment to key social, environmental and ethical objectives, using over 200 indicators from publicly available sources. The ranking is according to a ‘Walk’ score, tracking performance across 6 pillars: Equality, Climate, Good Business (thank you Tortoise), Justice, Poverty and Wellbeing and Skills & Education. Commitments, Targets and Memberships of relevant organisations are recorded in the “Talk” pillar which is measured separately. 

So, what are companies doing to tackle social inequality and climate change? The answer is a lot, but not enough. The R100 shows companies can get things done, and corporate success doesn’t have to be dangerous for the planet and unfair on people. But the pace of change is just not fast enough. Britain’s biggest businesses are on course for 2.8 degrees warming by 2050. Not net zero, not the 1.5 degrees the planet needs. And at the same time, CEO pay is up by 30% and nearly half the FTSE100 companies have no female executives. 

However, the R100 proves that things can change, and fast. For example, Autotrader has risen 42 places up the index, thanks to improving its disclosure, changing its Board composition, and leaning into the issue of pay fairness.  

Often we find ourselves surrounded by data on businesses, but not quite sure what it means and how it should impact our decisions. We think the R100 is an important and useful tool now and for the future. Have a look, and let’s call on businesses to walk the talk.  

By Alice Railton

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