The Global 100 edition of Webranking by Comprend 2017-2018 reveals that European companies continue to dominate the top spots, with US and Chinese companies trailing behind.
Reaching an average score of 40.2/100 (compared to 38/100 last year), the world’s 100 largest global companies fell on average five points behind the Europe 500 list; with 45.3/100.
While it is necessary to note that companies in North America and Asia adhere to different accounting and disclosure rules than their European counterparts, it remains imperative for them to be transparent on issues that stakeholders deem important. Of the stakeholders that form the base for the Webranking criteria, slightly less than half covered markets outside of Europe, showing that the criteria are relevant also for global companies.
German companies are crowned top performers
German chemicals company BASF takes first place in the ranking with 75.6 points, followed by German life sciences company Bayer, holding on to second place with 71.6 points. Last year’s winner, Deutsche Telekom, rounds up the podium in third place with 67.1 points.
European companies stand out in the crowd
Webranking works as a stress test, in that it measures the fundamentals of online corporate and financial communications and dialogue of the largest listed companies, based on stakeholder demands. The research’s objective is to promote a digital culture within companies and help them understand how to meet the growing expectations of stakeholders.
As the criteria in the protocol is based upon the needs and expectations of stakeholders – through annual surveys to investors, journalists and jobseekers – half of the max score (50 points out of 100) is considered the threshold at which companies respond adequately to capital demands.
19 companies pass the stress test this year, up from twelve last year, all of them comprising of European companies. In line with last year, the majority of global companies find themselves in the held back category (68 companies). Thirteen companies fail the stress test altogether, made up almost-entirely of American-owned companies.
Global companies up their investment in employer branding
Attracting the best talent is not as easy as it looks. For this reason, companies on the Global 100 list are upping their investment in this space, creating careers sites that are not only engaging, but meet job seekers needs. In fact, they outperform in this section by three points compared to the companies on the Europe 500 list.
Swiss pharmaceutical company, Roche, remains one to watch for effective employer branding. The company presents a well-stocked careers page, which not only covers employment opportunities, but also details employee rewards, career development and the company’s view on balancing work and life.
Lack of transparency in investor relations remains a weak spot
Global companies continue to demonstrate a lack of transparency when it comes to presenting clear and concise information in the investor relations section of their corporate website. Investors and analysts are increasingly looking beyond the annual report for useful information in understanding the investment story of a company – strategy, targets, risk management and debt feature highly in their list of expectations. Although, a mere 18% of the 100 companies we evaluated fulfil these expectations (compared to 29% of the companies in the Europe 500 list).
This year’s winner BASF is one of few companies who transparently communicates on matters that go beyond mere numbers. Take a look for example at their strategy, which outlines their principles, corporate purpose and focus areas.
Sustainability remains a European prerogative
Only one US company – Lockheed Martin Corporation – makes it into the top 10 sustainability communicators this year, with the rest made up of European companies. The sustainability section is also one of the worst performing sections of the corporate website, a surprising result given its increasing importance worldwide. In Europe, a new directive on non-financial information has made it obligatory for some countries – such as Italy – to report on non-financial matters. Rising global expectations for corporations to demonstrate responsibility and act in accordance to widespread global changes such as climate change also continue to grow every day.
Stand out performers this year include Nestlé, Roche and Unilever, who demonstrate a clear corporate responsibility in tackling societal and environmental problems in a strategic manner.
Top 10 performers
German, Swiss and British/Dutch companies dominate the list of the top 10 performers, with Chevron as the first non-European company on 26th place, with 43.2 points.