EcoVadis in a nutshell: Answers on most frequently asked questions

Lately, more and more organizations work towards increased insight into the CSR performance of their suppliers. The extent and complexity of supply chains have led to strong growth in the use of standardized CSR assessment platforms as EcoVadis. Once insight is gained into suppliers’ CSR performance, the next step is to work on improvement. In practice, this often means that organizations expect their suppliers to annually improve their performance or require their suppliers to reach a certain score. As an official EcoVadis partner, we assist organizations in the process. In this blog, we provide you with answers to the most frequently asked questions on the use of this standardized CSR assessment platform.

Q1: What is EcoVadis?

EcoVadis operates an evidence-based online platform, providing supplier sustainability ratings and allowing companies to assess the ESG performance of their global suppliers. It considers a range of CSR issues, which are grouped into four themes: ‘Environment’, ‘Labor & Human Rights’, ‘Ethics’, and ‘Sustainable Procurement’.

EcoVadis has defined 21 CSR criteria, based on international sustainable development standards. Among these 21 criteria, EcoVadis selects the ones that are relevant for your company. This is based on your activities’ specific challenges, as well as on your geographical location and company size. The central objective of the rating is to measure the quality of a company’s CSR management system through its policies, actions, and results. Providing supporting documentation is a key part of the assessment.

(Click on image for full size.) Source: EcoVadis CSR Methodology Overview and Principles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The results are presented in a scoring card which provides a clear overview of the strengths and points of improvements. EcoVadis scorecards are valid for twelve months after the publication date and one reassessment is included in an annual subscription. When the score does not meet your and/or your trading partners’ expectations or minimum requirements, this can be a good reason for an early reassessment.

Q2: How is the questionnaire build up?

Upon registration, EcoVadis requests you to create an online company profile. Filling in the questionnaire needs to be done with care as the information included determines, for a large part of it, what questions you will receive. EcoVadis has questionnaires tailored to >200 specific sectors. In addition, the location of the activities also influences the content of the questionnaire. The size and depth of the questionnaire are based on the number of employees and assessment scope, varying from XS for ‘up to 25 employees’, to L for ‘1000+ employees’. Therefore, there’s no such thing as ‘the EcoVadis questionnaire’, as questionnaires differ based on company specific characteristics.

Q3: Respond on group- or subsidiary level?

Companies may receive requests to participate at various organizational levels. The assessment scopes may vary from group level (e.g. headquarters, holding company, parent company) or subsidiary level (e.g. business unit, country specific entity, manufacturing site, or regional operating company). For the assessed organization, it may be more efficient to complete the survey on group level as they possibly receive multiple requests. In addition, large corporations may have an overarching management approach at group level which makes completing the survey at group level a logical step.

Facility or site ratings may be requested whenever a client is purchasing only from that specific entity, e.g. because it is responsible for supplying a specific part, material, or product. Sometimes group results may be hard to interpret for their specific needs. If an organization receives a request that does not match with the scope of the existing assessment, we advise checking with the requesting company (e.g. customers that request your organization to fill out the questionnaire) whether the scorecard of the current scope would suffice. If this is the case, you can ask EcoVadis to share the existing scorecard for a different scope. If the requested scope does not match your existing assessment, you will need to register the requested entity and complete a new assessment.

Other reasons for completing the questionnaire at subsidiary level may be a large diversity of activities within an organization, or interest in gaining insight in how their subsidiaries measure up to CSR performance standards. There is oftentimes an interest in comparing maturity internally, i.e. within the group, as there may be competition between sites/subsidiaries. That being said, a group assessment is, of course, more efficient and comprehensive, but it might dilute the top or worst performers within an organization, i.e. shows a less granular result.

Q4: How to prepare?

Taking a little bit of time to prepare to complete the questionnaire will make the process go much faster.

Prepare your team – first-time responders
When your organization participates for the first time, you have but little insight into the exact content of the questionnaire, unfortunately. but good preparation is definitely possible.. The EcoVadis questionnaire is divided into four categories: Environment, Labor & Human Rights, Ethics, and Sustainable Procurement. As responsibilities for these topics are generally assigned to different parts of the organization, make sure that the person responsible for the overarching theme is briefed. Walkthrough the criteria and check which criteria are actively managed within the organization. Per criteria, collect credible documentation that proves the topic is part of the company’s entire CSR management cycle e.g. policies, prove of endorsement of external initiatives, procedures, activities, certificates, site audits, training materials, CSR report, and relevant KPIs

Prepare your team – reassessment
You have received your EcoVadis scorecard and you may be either happy or unhappy with the results. Either way, it makes sense to perform a quick gap analysis to identify the most important points of improvement. Prioritization of actions is key to keep things manageable and a roadmap can be of great help to working on structural improvement. Requesting organizations use the EcoVadis tool to gain insight in, and manage the CSR performance of, their supply chain. Increasingly, requesting organizations require their suppliers to reach a certain EcoVadis score or to show continuous improvement. Receiving your EcoVadis scorecard is thus not merely a result but also a beginning.

Check your documents
The reliability of the documents provided is a crucial element of the assessment. EcoVadis has developed some general guidelines on which documents should adhere. Below you find a helpful checklist:

  • All documents must contain the company name, logo, date or implementation, and/or review date. In addition, documents in all languages are accepted, though it should be possible to copy text from the document. The authenticity of the document is key. Documents created solely for satisfying the EcoVadis questionnaire will not be accepted.
  • Policy documents should contain qualitative and/or quantitative objectives and pre-exist for an adequate period of time (i.e. more than 3 months prior to uploading the document in the EcoVadis tool). The validity period for a policy is eight years.
  • Documents supporting actions should describe their function and how they contribute to the mitigation of relevant risks. The validity period of a document describing actions is eight years. In addition, insight into the coverage of the actions, certificates, and third-party audits in relation to the EcoVadis assessment scope is important.
  • Results: the validity of a reported KPI is 2 years.

EcoVadis allows a maximum of 55 new document uploads for one assessment. This should be more than enough. Though if for example certificates and/or audit-reports take a large chunk of this capacity, these can be merged in one large pdf with a clear table of contents. However, this should be avoided if possible.

Q5: What is the timeline?

An EcoVadis assessment can start at any time of the year. After initiating the survey, you are given three weeks to complete the survey. However, if you think you may need more time to complete the questionnaire there is a possibility to ask for an extension of the deadline. After submission, EcoVadis experts perform their analysis and evaluation. The evaluation process takes about 6-8 weeks. You will receive an email notification to inform you that the results are published and available on the platform. The scorecard is valid for 12 months and reassessments will thus take place around the same time every year. Conscious planning of the first assessment, in a quieter time of the year, might be worth considering.

Conclusion

EcoVadis can help you gain insight into the quality of your management cycle on various sector-specific important CSR related topics. It provides you with a benchmark of your peers and appoints the strengths as well as possible points of improvement in your management cycle. It allows you the freedom to decide on the exact timing of the questionnaire, in comparison to benchmarks as CDP and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which have fixed timing. The variation in topics assessed, asks for cross-organizational collaboration, and can contribute to a higher level of ownership within various departments as well as the sharing of knowledge and best practices. Founded in 2007, the EcoVadis platform is growing fast. Assessing approximately 60,000 companies across 155 countries, many organizations currently rely on the EcoVadis platform to evaluate and improve their environmental and social performance. The scorecard can easily be shared with any requesting client.

There are many advantages to participating in the EcoVadis survey. We’d love to help you out! Want to know more about this topic or do you need some assistance in the process? Get in touch with our expert Kyra.

Author: Kyra Weerts.

Stay up to date with our latest news, recent blogs, and events with our regular email newsletter (3-4 times a year)!

Do you still have ambiguities regarding this blog? Please let us know in the comment section below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *