AccountAbility, also known as the Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability, is an independent not-for-profit think-tank and global network promoting accountability sustainable business practices and corporate responsibility.

Organisation and Role

AccountAbility was established in London, United Kingdom in 1996 with the stated aim to “develop new tools, thinking and connections that enable individuals, institutions and alliances to respond better to global challenges” [AccountAbility, [ Who we are] ,] . AccountAbility's work is closely related but not limited to the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) [The Economist, [] "CSR is spreading around the world, but in different guises", 17 January 2008 ] field. The organisation is often labelled as a global think-tank, and has undertaken work in the areas of Responsible Competitiveness, Partnership Effectiveness, Collaborative Governance and Sustainability Assurance and Reporting.

AccountAbility’s members include businesses, NGOs and research bodies, who elect the international, multi-stakeholder Council, with representatives from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, spanning the business, non-profit, consultancies and academia sectors.

AccountAbility’s Chief Executive, [] Simon Zadek is also a Senior Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and is a member of the Clinton-Dalberg Task Force programme effectiveness in leveraging private enterprise for development. In 2003, he was named the World Economic Forum’s ‘Global Leaders for Tomorrow.' [WEF [ Does Corporate Responsibility Pay?] , Annual Meeting, 23rd January 2004,]

AA1000 Series of Standards

At the core of AccountAbility's work is the AA1000 Series, a series of recognised corporate responsibility standards, which is an open source framework for organisational accountability developed through a multi-stakeholder consultation and review process. The standards are designed to be compatible with other key standards in this area, including the GRI Guidelines, SIGMA Guidelines [] [New Economics Foundation] , SA8000, the ISO Series and financial accounting standards.

The AA1000 Series consists of: the AA1000 Framework, the AA1000 Assurance Standard (AA1000AS) and AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard (AA100SES).

AA1000 Framework

The AA1000 Framework, launched in 1999, aimes to support organisational learning and progress towards sustainable development by improving the quality of social and ethical accounting, auditing and reporting. It was positioned as a foundation standard which could underpin the development of more specialist standards and accelerate convergence of standards for organisational accountability.

AA1000 Assurance Standard

The AA1000 Assurance Standard, launched in 2003, aimed to provide a systematic and consistent framework for assurance of performance. The AA1000AS is positioned as the first non-proprietary, open-source Assurance Standard that covers the full range of an organisation's disclosure and performance.

The standard assesses reports against three main principles: materiality, completeness and responsiveness.

Sustainability Reporting and Assurance Standards, like AA1000AS, are responding to increasing business demands for credible, fair and balanced information on organisations’ management and understanding of non-financial issues. [Business Standard] Increasing use of the standard worldwide (Japan, Australia, Brazil, South Africa and India) have caused high interest in the AA1000AS revision, coming from sustainability practitioners, organisations preparing reports and from other standards bodies.

The AA1000AS is currently undergoing a revision process with the second edition of AA1000AS being the world's first corporate standard to be developed using a web-based, co-development, open-source 'wiki' techniques to maximise participation and leverage synergies of collective knowledge. The wiki revision of the standard was launched on 24 January 2008 [SD3 Business Sustainability] and will continue until the end of October 2008.

AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard

The AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard, launched in 2005, aims to secure the quality of organisations' engagement with their stakeholders in the context of learning, governance and accountability. The AA1000SES can be used as a stand-alone standard or in combination with other standards (e.g. AA1000 Assurance Standard, Global Reporting Initiative, ISO).

Responsible Competitiveness

The term "responsible competitiveness" stands for markets that reward business practices that deliver improved social, environmental and economic outcomes. "Responsible competitiveness" also means economic success for nations that encourage such business practices through public policies, societal norms and citizen actions. [AccountAbility]

AccountAbility works with regional and national governments, and with multi-sector alliances to help reshape markets. Some of the partners of the Responsible Competitiveness work are Fundação Dom Cabral, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, London Development Agency, Authentix, Microsoft, UNEP, BT, FUNDEMAS, Yorkshire Forward and SAGIA. The goal of this work is to build social and environmental innovation into the core of competitiveness strategies.

The Responsible Competitiveness Series of AccountAbility include the reports:
*'Responsible Competitiveness: Corporate Responsibility Clusters in Action' []

*'Corporate Responsibility and the Competitive Advantage of Nations' []

*'Trading Accountability: Business, Trade and Investment Policy and Sustainable Development' []

*'Responsible Competitiveness Index 2003: Aligning corporate responsibility and the competitiveness of nations' []

*'Responsible Competitiveness: Reshaping Markets Through Responsible Business Practices' []

*'Responsible Competitiveness in Europe: Enhancing European Competitiveness through Corporate Responsibility' []

*'The State of Responsible Competitiveness 2007: Making Sustainability Count in Global Markets' []

The State of Responsible Competitiveness 2007

"The State of Responsible Competitiveness 2007: Making Sustainability Count in Global Markets" is a report on countries’ efforts to become more competitive through enhancing responsible business practices. The report suggests what each country can do to perform better in global trade and pinpoints the winners in the competition for implementing more responsible business practices.

According to The Responsible Competitiveness Index, covering 108 countries accounting for 96% of global economic activity, Sweden is the world's most responsibly competitive nation, followed by Denmark, Finland, Iceland and UK. Strong performers outside Europe include Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan, Estonia, Slovenia, Chile and the Republic of Korea.

The report includes a foreword from Al Gore and a dozen essays on responsible competitiveness from experts such as Sir Nicholas Stern (climate change), Laura Tyson (the gender gap), Jean-Philippe Courtois (ICT, social inclusion and competitiveness), Nick Butler (energy security), Peter Eigen (corruption) and Jonathan Lash [] (preparing for a carbon-constrained future).

AccountAbility Rating

The Accountability Rating [] is a tool for measuring the extent to which companies have embedded responsible practices into the way they do business. The Rating was developed by CSR consultancy csrnetwork [] and AccountAbility [] and first applied in 2004.

Every year AccountAbility applies the Rating to the world’s largest companies (according to the Fortune Global 100, or ‘G100’), and the headline results are first published by Fortune magazine, followed by other media.

The Rating evaluates companies according to their public reporting, as well as data on their actual social and environmental performance. It rates companies on four key areas: strategy, governance, engagement and impact. Their scores are out of a maximum of 100.

Country ratings

AccountAbility also publishes country rankings. In 2007, alongside the global application of the Accountability Rating to the world’s largest 100 companies, the Accountability Rating was applied to the largest companies in five countries: Russia, Hungary, Turkey, Greece and South Africa.


ee also

*Alex MacGillivray
*Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
*Global Reporting Initiative
*Simon Zadek
*Social accounting
*Transparency International

External links

* [ Official Site]
* [ AA1000AS Register] See which companies are currently using the AA1000AS

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