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14 December 2023

UK companies struggle to meet increasing demands for transparency

The UK’s top companies are failing to meet increased stakeholder demands for online transparency by failing to include sought-after and essential information on their websites.

Karen LesterSenior consultant

Once again we have conducted research into the UK's top 200 companies by examining their corporate websites. Now in its 27th year, our Webranking survey is the largest survey of corporate websites and the only annual survey based on stakeholder expectations. It asks investors, journalists and jobseekers about their expectations when it comes to a company’s corporate website. The UK companies are measured against a set of criteria, based on these stakeholder expectations and then given an overall score. 

Our findings show that these companies are missing critical information that investors, analysts, and job seekers are looking for. This gap in communication particularly pertains to their investment propositions as well as their sustainability and diversity initiatives.

When summarising the UK results we notice the following:

  • UK’s top companies are failing to meet stakeholder demands for transparency on their corporate websites.
  • There is a significant need for businesses to better communicate to key audiences, which include jobseekers, investors, analysts and journalists.
  • Career information shows improvement, yet only 26% discuss work/life balance, and 36% mention remote working policies.
  • ESG reporting reveals inconsistencies; while 72% outline environmental targets, only 25% report on achievements.
  • This year, BP topped the list of UK companies, scoring highest overall for their sustainability, careers, investor and press and media content.

Our Webranking survey chimes with recent research  which found that the expectations of companies are at an all-time high among consumers, and that 53% of consumers aged 27-58 assume a brand is doing nothing, or hiding something if it does not communicate its actions to address societal issues. Similar research found that global executives, on average, attribute 63% of their company's market value to their company's overall reputation, highlighting the importance of businesses being seen as a trustworthy source of information. 

A corporate website plays an important role as a trustworthy communication channel in today's environment, where businesses are expected to be reliable and transparent. It is clear that for businesses to maintain and enhance the trust placed in them by society, they need to address the shortcomings in digital communication.

Staffan Lindgren, Senior advisor Comprend

Investor Relations still falls behind 

This year, the survey found that top UK companies performed particularly poorly when it came to investor relations, fulfilling on average only 26% of criteria to meet stakeholder expectations. Only half (53%) presented an investor case and just 18% presented financial targets. This compared to 28% for European companies.

Information about work-life balance is missing

For Careers, UK companies performed slightly better, on average, fulfilling almost half (48%) of the criteria, including presenting information about learning and development (63%) and presenting their purpose (80%). But only a quarter of UK companies (26%) present any information about work/life balance and just 36% offer any information about working from home, which is of increasing importance to jobseekers since the Covid pandemic. 

We know that flexible working, which rose in popularity after the Covid pandemic, is still a high priority for candidates. Research has shown companies that embrace flexible working can attract more talent, improve staff motivation and reduce staff turnover and companies who fail to showcase this as a benefit for candidates, will miss out on talent.

Staffan Lindgren, Senior advisor Comprend

Notable gap in ESG information

In terms of presenting ESG information, there is a notable gap despite growing stakeholder interest. While companies effectively showcase documents like codes of conduct and tax policies, they fall behind in other important area such as targets and achievements. UK companies fulfil, on average just 43% of the criteria in the Sustainability section and while 72% present environmental targets, only 25% present data on target achievements.

Top performers

BP: Energy company, BP, topped this year’s survey, scoring 61.4 out of a possible 100 points. They performed particularly well when it came to careers information for jobseekers as well as sustainability information.

Diageo: Global leader in premium drinks, Diageo, also rose in the rankings this year, climbing to second place (from 9th place), scoring 60.8 points. They scored highly, with a well-crafted Careers section, with information on flexible working and hiring information.

Shell: Shell maintains third place in the UK list and performs well in financial reporting and sustainability.

Best climber

The best climber (the company that has improved its score the most since last year) is Reckitt Benckiser Group, improving the score by 16.6 points. Well done!

Top 10 - UK 

2DiageoFood, Beverage and Tobacco60.8
4UnileverPersonal Care, Drug and Grocery Stores60.0
6Rolls-Royce HoldingsIndustrial Goods and Services57.0
7Coca-Cola HBCFood, Beverage and Tobacco56.9
8BAE SystemsIndustrial Goods and Services56.5
9GlaxoSmithKlineHealth Care55.9
10British American TobaccoFood, Beverage and Tobacco55.5


  • Karen Lester, Senior consultant