Scoring

Our Research Process

Nudge for Change is here to help you align your everyday spending habits with your personal moral compass. As part of that mission, we're committed to using information only from the most credible, thoroughly-vetted sources available.

For example, Nudge for Change researchers consult sources like Grab Your Wallet, Boycott Trump, and Sleeping Giants to determine each company's score on their financial ties to the Trump administration; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Forbes, and GlassDoor to determine each company's score on workers' rights; the EPA, Energy Star, and Corporate Social Responsibility Hub for assessing environmental sustainability scores; and the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and Equality Forum to assess LGBT equality scores (see below for more info about the specific sources we use in each category).

We do not analyze or quantify data beyond identifying reliable sources for these value categories. Instead, we assemble information that's already been fact-checked by our sources and share it with our users. Our goal is to present large quantities of careful research in a concise, meaningful way.

To date, we have assigned scores to more than 317,000 of the largest and most commonly frequented retailer locations in the US in the categories of Trump Issues, Workers' Rights, the Environment, Women's Equality, Racial Equality, and LGBT Equality. The companies we're nudging users about include big box and grocery stores, clothing and electronics retailers, pharmacies, and restaurants. New businesses are added on an ongoing basis.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you calculate scores?

The world isn't black and white, so most companies have a history of making both positive and negative decisions when it comes to ethics. We seek out information on both, then assign scores that aim to reflect the real-world impact of those actions.

All businesses in our database are scored on a scale of zero to ten, with zero being the worst possible score and ten being the best.

Every company starts with a neutral score in each category. From there, we look at all verifiable actions, both positive and negative, that the company has taken in that realm. We then assess the real-world impact of each of those actions, and each one is assigned a meticulously-calculated numerical value. Generally, the more net positive actions a company has taken, the higher their score will be (and vice versa).

Some actions have a larger impact than others. Voicing public support for a cause is wonderful, but not nearly as important as delivering actual results.

Taking that into account, we assign a higher weight for concrete actions with measurable, real-world results, and a lower weight for public relations statements or ads (both positive and negative). In cases where we cannot find enough credible research about a business for a particular value category, we refrain from assigning a score for that category.

A score of zero doesn't necessarily mean that a company is evil incarnate, but it does mean they've taken multiple actions that have a negative impact in that category. Conversely, a score of 10 doesn't mean a company is perfect, but it does mean that they've taken a variety of actions that have a positive impact in a given category.

We will continue to refine and improve our scoring system over time as we gain more data and glean more information from user input. Ultimately, we aim to be as transparent, consistent, and evenhanded as possible.

Are these scores based on complete corporate histories?

We understand that the world is changing. We believe a history of doing the right thing should be rewarded, but think that changing for the better should be applauded, too. So if a company has a history of making bad decisions, but they've recently begun implementing change, we take that into consideration in our scoring.

Let's say, for example, we were scoring a company that had a long history of polluting the environment up until three years ago, at which point they publicly resolved to address the issue and began taking concrete steps to operate more sustainably. In that instance, we would allow the old actions to be effectively neutralized by the new, positive ones.

Similarly, if a company takes note of the fact that their negative scores are nudging away business, works to improve in those areas, then notifies us of the change, those new actions will be recognized in the app. After we have officially verified all reported new, positive actions, we adjust scores accordingly.

However, we do our best to only reward real, actionable change with quantifiable effects. We prioritize hard data and official recognition from third-party sources that are not part of a company's public relations department.

We also prioritize sources and events from within the last 10 years, unless the older actions are an overwhelming part of an ongoing trend.

What if I disagree with your sources?

We're always working to improve Nudge for Change, and we would love your help!

Please let us know if you think one of our sources does not meet exacting enough standards, or if you believe there's important data we may have missed.

Are you affiliated with a political party?

While we may use sources related to the DNC, we feel that both parties need a nudge in the right direction, and as such are not affiliated with the Democratic Party, nor are we against the Republican Party. With oversight from the people, we can make our political system work for us, not for corporate interests.

Trump Issues

To calculate a company's score on Donald Trump-related issues, we consult established databases of entities that provide financial support to members of the Trump family or administration.

Sources include: GrabYourWallet.org, #BoycottTrump (Democratic Coalition Against Trump), Sleeping Giants

Examples of Positive-Scoring Actions:

  • Pulling all advertising from Steve Bannon's Breitbart website (neutralizes a negative score only)

  • Discontinuing the sale of Trump family products, such as Ivanka Trump's clothing and fragrance line and Trump wine (neutralizes a negative score only)

Examples of Negative-Scoring Actions:

  • Present on the Grab Your Wallet or Boycott Trump (Democratic Coalition Against Trump) list under "sells Trump Family Products," such as Ivanka Trump's clothing and fragrance line and Trump wine

  • Present on the Boycott Trump list under "Owned by Icahn Enterprises, whose Founder and CEO Carl Icahn was one of Trump's earliest supporters"

  • Advertising on Steve Bannon's Breitbart website

Workers' Rights

Our metrics for workers' rights scores include things like employee protections and benefits, fair wages, opportunities for advancement, and the right to form unions.

While we hope businesses will treat all of their employees well, we also recognize that the best indicator of fairness is usually seen in the treatment of employees with the least leverage. As a result, we look primarily at non-corporate or office positions wherever relevant, focusing on the average salaries and policies that affect a corporation's lowest-paid workers, like in-store associates and restaurant wait staff.

Most companies do not publicly report the salaries of their employees, so we often refer to large databases of anonymous sources to identify reported wages.

Sources include: Forbes, Fortune, GlassDoor.com, EEOC.gov, PayScale.com, OSHA.gov

Examples of Positive-Scoring Actions:

  • Compensating lowest-paid staff members at a rate of at least $10 an hour

    The closer a company pays to a living wage (national average = $15.50/hour), the more weight is assigned to their score.

  • Benefits for part-time employees, either fully subsidized or provided as a buy-in

    We do not consider staff discounts to be a health or medical benefit.

  • Opportunities for advancement

    This includes tuition reimbursement/aid, as well as promoting from within (existing employees).

Examples of Negative-Scoring Actions:

  • No benefits for part-time employees and/or limited medical benefits for full-time employees

    For example: Health insurance is limited to catastrophic coverage for emergency room or hospital visits only.

  • A recent history of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) violations or lawsuits for discrimination, harassment, or wage-theft

    We consider ongoing lawsuits, lawsuits that settled with a monetary award to the plaintiff, and lawsuits where the defendant was found guilty. When lawsuits are settled out of court or without a reported settlement, we don't include them in our assessment.

  • A recent history of OSHA violations dealing with employee safety

Environment

Environmental impact and sustainability is a broad category that includes a wide range of considerations like recycling methods, green energy usage, sustainable animal farming and welfare, sustainable ingredient sourcing (such as deforestation-free palm oil), and overall carbon footprint.

There are a large number of ways companies can decrease their carbon footprint and increase the sustainability of the products and services they use. We prioritize data from public non-profits, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and regularly-updated environmental impact lists such as Newsweek Green Rankings and Corporate Social Responsibility Hub (CSRHub) sustainability scores.

Sources include: EPA.gov, Newsweek.com, echo.EPA.gov, PalmOilScoreCard.panda.org

Examples of Positive-Scoring Actions:

  • Increased overall recycling and waste diversion efforts

  • A commitment to using sustainable palm oil to reduce rainforest destruction, in combination with actions toward that end

  • Partnering with the EPA to decrease overall energy use (through the Energy Star Program), to increase the sustainability of shipping methods (through the SmartWay Program), or to increase green energy use (through the Green Power Partnership)

Examples of Negative-Scoring Actions:

  • No commentary or commitment to sustainability, environment or environmental actions in public relations outreach or mission statement

  • No actions towards using sustainable palm oil (when applicable)

  • A recent history of EPA violations

Women's Equality

Our metrics for women's equality scores include things like family-friendly policies, efforts to close the gender wage gap, and the presence (or absence) of women in leadership roles.

Sources include: PaidLeave.us, EEOC.gov, InHerSight.gov, WorkingMothers.com, National Association of Female Executives, Fortune, Forbes

Examples of Positive-Scoring Actions:

  • Providing paid maternity leave, paternity leave and adoptive parent leave

  • Publicly pledging to provide women with equal pay

  • Having an equal (or nearly equal) number of women as men on staff

  • Having women present in upper-level executive leadership roles, such as CEO, managerial and board of directors positions

  • Recognition by third parties as a positive workplace for women

Examples of Negative-Scoring Actions:

  • Less than one fifth of executive leadership or board of directors positions are held by women

    One fifth has been chosen because it represents the average number of women in these roles in the United States.

  • Sexual harassment, gender discrimination, or gender-biased wage-theft lawsuits

    We consider ongoing lawsuits, lawsuits that settled with a monetary award to the plaintiff, and lawsuits where the defendant was found guilty. When lawsuits settle out-of-court or without a reported settlement, we don't include them in our assessment.

  • Recognition by third parties as a negative workplace for women

  • No paid maternity, paternity or adoptive parent leave provided

    We do not consider the supplemental use of Family Medical Leave or Short Term Disability Leave to be equivalent to employer-provided paid parental leave.

Racial Equality

Our metrics for racial equality scores include things like the presence (or absence) of people of color in leadership roles, histories of racial discrimination, and efforts to prioritize the educational and career advancement of employees of color.

Sources include: EEOC.gov, NAACP, ACLU, Diversity, Inc., HACR.org, BlackEnterprises.com, Omnikal.com

Examples of Positive-Scoring Actions:

  • Publicly pledging to support, hire and provide opportunities to succeed to people of color

  • People of color in the workforce in levels at least proportional to the general population

  • Having people of color present in upper-level executive leadership roles like CEO, managerial and board of directors positions

  • Recognition by third parties as a positive workplace for people of color

Examples of Negative-Scoring Actions:

  • Less than 12% of executive leadership or board of directors positions are held by people of color

    Twelve percent has been chosen because it is the "average" number of people of color in these roles in the United States.

  • Recognition by third parties as a negative workplace for people of color

  • Racial harassment, discrimination, or racial-bias lawsuits

    We consider ongoing lawsuits, lawsuits that settled with a monetary award to the plaintiff, and lawsuits where the defendant was found guilty. When lawsuits settle out-of-court or without a reported settlement, we don't include them in our assessment.

LGBTQ Equality

Our metrics for LGBTQ equality scores include things like whether a company is publicly LGBTQ-friendly and supportive, the presence and enforcement of basic anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ employees, recognition of same-sex or trans domestic partners and adopted children with regard to benefits, and LGBTQ-inclusive health care options.

Sources include: HRC.org, LogoTV.com, EEOC, BusinessInsider.com

Examples of Positive-Scoring Actions:

  • Having anti-discrimination policies on the books that protect LGBTQ employees and customers

  • Publicly supporting LGBTQ rights, either on their website or through public gestures

  • LGBTQ-friendly health insurance coverage, such as transgender-inclusive options

Examples of Negative-Scoring Actions:

  • Sexual-orientation or gender-identity harassment, discrimination, or bias lawsuits

    We consider ongoing lawsuits, lawsuits that settled with a monetary award to the plaintiff, and lawsuits where the defendant was found guilty. When lawsuits settle out-of-court or without a reported settlement, we don't include them in our assessment.

  • No publicly-stated anti-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation or gender identity

    Sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected by federal or a majority of state anti-discrimination laws. Therefore, a policy that says discrimination is not allowed as prescribed by law does not usually cover LGBTQ employees.

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