The Transparency Benchmark is an annual survey by the Ministry of Economic Affairs which examines the content and quality of external reporting on corporate responsibility issues. The benchmark is performed on a yearly determined group including the largest companies in the Netherlands.
Research group 2017
For the yearly composition of the research group various criteria are taken into account. Organizations that meet one or more criteria from the participant protocol become automatically part of the research group 2017 of the Transparency Benchmark. Participation of the Benchmark is therefore not voluntarily. But companies can choose to fill in the self-assessment tool or not. If you do not fill in the self-assessment, then EY will determine your score. They check and assess the information that is publicly available in relation to the criteria of the Transparency Benchmark.
In 2014 a new standard has been added to the participant protocol: also 'public-interest organizations' of 500 employees or more are now part of the research group. The Ministry of Economic Affairs follows the European Union directive regarding the disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups.
So the organization has to have a 'public interest'. What the exact definition is of this, can be defined in more detail per country. In the Netherlands, at this moment, the definition of the 'Wet toezicht accountantsorganisaties' (in Dutch) (the supervision law concerning audit firms) is being used. Although there is a discussion taking place on the definition of a public-interest organization, it is certain that banks, credit agencies and insurance companies are included in this definition.
Dutch companies with foreign parent company
Since 2014 a new exception is valid for Dutch companies that are part of a foreign parent company. If your company is a subsidiary company from a foreign parent, other rules apply to you. When the international parent reports concerning the five themes from the EU-legislative proposal about non-financial information (environment, social and labor-related aspects, human rights, bribery and board diversity) and you do not want to include your Dutch social report within the Transparency Benchmark (or if your company does not publish a Dutch social report) you can take part within the so called ‘group-regulation’. For these companies a different overview will be made without a mutual benchmark. These companies do not get a score.
When you are a company that meets the exception, but also publishes a Dutch social report, you can choose to voluntarily join the Transparency Benchmark with the Dutch report.
Companies and other organizations can apply to the Ministry to voluntarily take part of the Transparency Benchmark by e-mailing to email@example.com. Each application will be handled individually. The point of departure is that companies with substantial activities in the Netherlands will be part of the research group of the Benchmark.
If you are considering to voluntarily take part of the benchmark, the Ministry advises you to carefully read the criteria beforehand. When part of the benchmark, the volunteering company will remain part of the research group.
Small- and medium-sized enterprises no longer part of the Benchmark
The evaluation of the Transparency Benchmark in 2013 (in Dutch) showed that small- and medium-sized enterprises do not easily find the way to the benchmark. Also the way of working and questioning of the Transparency Benchmark do not match the needs of this target group. Therefore in 2013 it was decided that SMEs can no longer take part of the benchmark. Other policies to motivate SMEs in transparency and the sharing of best practices are still carried out.