About the Transparency Benchmark
The Dutch government asks companies to be transparent about their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies and activities. The Transparency Benchmark is a biennial benchmark that maps out how transparent the Dutch business community is with regard to their sustainability reporting. More specifically, it includes a study into the qualitative and quantitative development of sustainability reporting among the 500 largest companies in the Netherlands.
The Transparency Benchmark offers the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK) and companies themselves insight into the way in which Dutch companies provide an overview of their CSR activities and their developments herein. The emphasis here is really put on transparency, openness and insight about the business processes and the value chain: not on improved policy and activities itself.
Transparency Benchmark design
The Transparency Benchmark is executed every two years: in odd-numbered years. This means that after a transparency study has been carried out in an odd-numbered 'benchmark year', companies have the opportunity to improve their sustainability reporting in the following even-numbered years.
In an odd-numbered 'benchmark year', a regular transparency survey is conducted among a 'permanent research group' of the 500 largest Dutch companies. Every year a new 'sustainability theme' is chosen, to which extra attention is paid. These 500 companies receive an invitation to conduct a self-assessment, which is then reviewed by a third independent party. This party assesses the level of transparency of the most recent social reporting of all companies in the research group – whereby the self-assessment gives the participating companies the opportunity to provide additional information about the reporting as a whole and the year’s sustainability theme in particular.
In an even-numbered ‘gap year’, no regular transparency survey is conducted. The companies among the ‘permanent research group’ do receive an invitation again to voluntarily nominate themselves or others for their efforts and/or progress made in their social reporting on a newly chosen sustainability theme. Afresh, they are assessed and provided with feedback by the same independent party as in the ‘benchmark year'. In addition, companies outside the 'permanent research group', the so-called volunteers, are also very welcome to participate in this nomination and assessment round.