The guide to EcoVadis certification: frequently asked questions

December 2, 2022
Blog
Time Tracker
minutes

What is EcoVadis?

Created in 2007, EcoVadis provides a collaborative web-based rating platform assessing the non-financial global performance of organizations, working towards increased insight into the sustainability performance of their suppliers.

The non-financial assessment by EcoVadis measures the sustainability management system of a company through 21 sustainability criteria focused on four key performance areas:

  • Environment: impact from the production processes (energy consumption, water, biodiversity, local and accidental pollution, GHG emissions), impact from product use, and end-of-life
  • Labor & Human Rights: Human resources management (accident prevention, staff training, working conditions, social dialogue) and Human Rights (respect for labor laws, diversity, discrimination)
  • Ethics: corruption, anti-competitive practices, and information management responsibility
  • Sustainable procurement: supplier environmental and social practices.
Source: EcoVadis, methodology

The methodology is based on international sustainability standards such as the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, the International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)’s standards, the ISO 26000 standard, the CERES Roadmap, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, also known as the Ruggie Framework.

The methodology also integrates sustainability regulations from +160 countries.

The evaluation is driven according to 7 EcoVadis founding principles:

  • Evidence-based: the rated company must provide evidence and supporting documents and is responsible for them (strategic notes, certificates, reports)
  • Industry, location, and size matter: the assessment takes into account specific issues related to the sector, presence in risky countries, size, and geographic scope
  • Diversification of Sources: The rating takes into account standpoints published by NGOs, trade unions, international organizations, local authorities, or other third-party organizations (e.g., auditors, CDP, external compliance database)
  • Technology is a must: the EcoVadis IT system integrates learning, growth, rapid scalability and facilitates industrialization
  • Assessment by International Sustainability Experts: the documents are analyzed by an international team of experts up to date with the latest best practices in sustainability
  • Traceability and Transparency: the documents are stored securely and can be traced back. Rated companies may access to the most detailed results and to each scoring decision
  • Excellence Through Continuous Improvement: EcoVadis has implemented and operates a company-wide quality management system supported by a client advisory board and a scientific committee.

For EcoVadis, an effective sustainability management system relays on three management layers Policies, Actions and Reporting On Results, separated into seven management indicators: Policies (POLI), Endorsements (ENDO), Measures (MESU), Certifications (CERT), Coverage – Deployment of Actions (COVE), Reporting (REPO) and 360° Watch Findings (360).


Who is EcoVadis for?

The EcoVadis rating is available to all companies and suppliers, excepting the companies operating in Manufacture of tobacco products (ISIC code 1200), Mining of coal and lignite (ISIC division 05), Manufacture of weapons and ammunition (ISIC code 2520), Manufacture of air and spacecraft and related machinery (ISIC code 3030).

The EcoVadis company users can be:

  • Either a client company whose procurement executives request their suppliers to answer EcoVadis. Then they get access to easy-to-use scorecards and are allowed to monitor the sustainability performance of their business partners as well as their continuous improvement actions.
  • Either suppliers that are requested to answer a client's request. After being rated, the suppliers may share their scorecard results with the member community or other share on the platform. This possibility may increase their business opportunities. This sharing requires their authorization, and the platform ensures the confidentiality of their sensitive information.

In total, EcoVadis covers more than 200 purchasing categories.

Industry leaders such as Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, Subway, Coca Cola European Partners, Salesforce, Renault-Nissan, ING Bank, and Nokia are among the +75,000 businesses populating the EcoVadis network.

Is EcoVadis to be responded to on a group or subsidiary level?

The EcoVadis assessment scopes allow participation at various organizational levels, from group levels (headquarters, holding, or parent company) to subsidiary levels (business unit, country-specific entity, manufacturing site, or regional operating company).

On a group level, the documentation provided has to cover all the underlying entities to avoid the risk of a lower score. For instance, in the case of a company ISO certified for an entity in a country, but not in other countries, it may be more beneficial to conduct the assessment on a subsidiary level in a country where the company is ISO certified.

Conversely, large companies with an overarching management approach or requested to complete the survey on multiple entities can process the assessment at the group level, as long as they can provide supporting documentation at this group level as well.

Why is EcoVadis important?

What are the benefits for for profit companies ?

The use of technology is a key part of EcoVadis assessment: the collaborative, integrated web-based platform helps monitor the sustainability performance of suppliers with reports and dynamic quantitative metrics.

For each of the four sustainability themes (Environment, Labor & Human Rights, Ethics, Sustainable Procurement), the easy-to-use scorecards give a clear, dynamic view on a company’s performance: insufficient, beginner, intermediate, advanced, and leader. This information helps to implement prioritized actions to focus on for improvement.
Since 2021, a dedicated and independent scorecard for Carbon has been added.

More qualitatively, strengths & improvement areas provide more details and insights into a company’s score, as in the figure below.

Source: EcoVadis, Strength and Improvement areas, https://ecovadis.com/suppliers/

Improvement areas are automatically added to the company’s Corrective Action Plan, pre-organized by priority.

The Corrective Action Plan (CAP) is a tool shared between the evaluated company and its client, in order to improve the CSR performance.

It is strongly recommended when the supplier’s score is below 47, choosing the 5-10 most important actions that are automatically proposed by the tool.

Uploading new documents does not impact the current scorecard, but will be considered for the next re-evaluation.

Unlike other ESG rating agencies, the EcoVadis assessment is built on thorough documentation analysis by a global team of sustainability experts from 50+ nationalities who will verify whether the company answers are supported by the proper documents and respect criteria.

How long is the recognition valid?

EcoVadis scorecards are valid for 12 months after publication.

Once the 12 months have passed, the company will still be able to access its scorecard (and the ones of suppliers) but will no longer be able to share the results publicly.

Companies subscribe to an annual fee ranging from €350 to €6,500, depending on the company size.

This subscription covers the EcoVadis assessment, access to the EcoVadis platform and resources, and the ability to share the company’s performance.

What is an EcoVadis rating? The step-by-step process

The EcoVadis assessment process takes place in 4 phases.

Source: https://ecovadis.com/suppliers/

Step 1: Registration on the EcoVadis website

The client is asked to create a company profile specifying the business activity and the contact information.

Step 2: Questionnaire

Once the registration is complete, a link and instructions (e.g. deadline to complete the questionnaire) are sent to create the account and access the platform.

The EcoVadis assessment can be conducted in 8 languages: English, French, Spanish, Dutch, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Chinese.

Documents can be submitted in all languages but it is preferable to upload documents in one of these languages, especially English.

According to the company sector, size and country, a tailored questionnaire is built by EcoVadis, and the procurement executives can request their suppliers to undergo the assessment throughout the platform.

Source: Nexioproject, The Ultimate Guide To EcoVadis

From the dashboard, the control panel displays which criteria are activated for the company evaluation and their level of importance: not activated, activated with medium importance, activated with high importance, or activated only in risk countries.

Step 3: Expert analysis

After filling out the questionnaire, EcoVadis ESG experts will assess the answers and the supporting documentation.

The process takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks, depending on the complexity of the information provided by the company and the number of documents submitted.

For this step, EcoVadis Analyst not only reviews answers and documents provided by the company but also external resources (media, NGOs, etc.).

360° Watch Findings:

A key distinguishing element of EcoVadis’ sustainability monitoring platform is the integration of external inputs, both during and between assessments, to augment company-provided documentation and data sources. The 360° Watch Findings help collect stakeholder inputs that may impact a company’s score. It combines Artificial Intelligence with human analysis to identify the most relevant stories within the past five years, both positive and negative, collected from over 100,000 public sources.

Step 4: Results

Once the answers are analyzed and results published, the platform notifies the company via email.

EcoVadis rating methodology

An overall final score out of 100 is given to the company.

It is a weighted average score, function of the size, industry and location of the company, on the four themes (Environment, Ethics, Labor & Human Rights, Sustainable Procurement).

This overall score reflects the quality of the company’s and its supplier network’s sustainability strategy, actions, and performances at the time of assessment.

The three management layers are given the following weights: policies account for 25% of the scoring, actions for 40% and results for 35%.

Source: https://ecovadis.com/suppliers/

The company scorecards can be easily shared with employees or customers and compared against peers in the industry, thanks to EcoVadis’ benchmark (see example below).

Example of a company’s benchmark performance (part of the EcoVadis scorecard)

Once the results are calculated, the company might receive an EcoVadis medal based upon the percentile rank of its score.

This percentile rank is calculated across all assessed companies in all industries, not per industry.

No medal is assigned for overall scores below 47, or if there is a low theme score (≤20) in any of the four themes (Environment, Labor & Human Rights, Ethics and Sustainable Procurement).

In January 2022, the reviewed criteria are as follows:

  • Platinum - top 1% (overall score between 75 and 100)
  • Gold - top 5% (overall score between 67 and 74)
  • Silver - top 25% (overall score between 56 and 66)
  • Bronze - top 50% (overall score between 47 and 55)
The medal shows the year in which the assessment was completed and can be used as external recognition on the company’s website and on communication to investors, trading partners, and customers.The detailed rating methodology is available on EcoVadis’ website.

How to prepare for EcoVadis certification?

First assessment

The better prepared a company is, the easier it will be to complete the assessment process.

Each of the four themes covered is generally assigned to a specific department: Environment to the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) manager, Labor & Human Rights to Human Resources (HR) manager, Sustainable Procurement to the Procurement team, and Ethics section to the IT or Legal departments.

One person within the company should be appointed as being responsible for the overarching questionnaire, for collecting relevant documents and making sure they answer EcoVadis’ requirements.

The EcoVadis website provides some general guidelines and dedidated webinars to help companies understand its requirements.

For premium customers, the eLearning platform EcoVadis Academy offers introductory and advanced online courses in five languages (English, French, German, Spanish, and Chinese) aligned with the EcoVadis rating methodology.

The EcoVadis Academy enables administrators to track individual progress, monitor, and assign coursework to drive supplier sustainability improvement programs identified within a company’s scorecard.

Reassessment

The reassessment process may be initiated when the scorecard has expired or when the minimum score requested by a partner has not been reached.

Before starting reassessment, it is recommended that 1- the company reviews guidance provided within its previous scorecard, and 2- establishes a progress report, based on the corrective actions implemented following previous assessment.

Tips on how to ensure the best score

Supporting documentation requested by EcoVadis are crucial elements of the assessment.

Hereafter is a check-list to effectively prepare for the process:

  • All documents must contain the company name, logo, date of implementation, and/or review date. All languages are accepted. Authenticity is key: if a document is created for satisfying the EcoVadis questionnaire, it will not be accepted.
  • Policy documents should contain qualitative and/or quantitative objectives and pre-exist for more than three months before being uploaded on the EcoVadis platform. 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. Their validity period is eight years.
  • Results: the validity of a reported KPI is two years.

EcoVadis allows a maximum of 55 new document uploads for one assessment.

Options for facilitation and aid from third-parties

Getting through EcoVadis assessment is complex and time-consuming. Most companies lack the expertise to complete it on their own and are prone to mistakes that could complicate matters further. But we can make everything smoother!

With apiday, there is an easier way. 🌿

Our AI driven technology helps companies automate their assessment process, while our experts provide tailored ESG consulting support.

So you can focus on what matters the most: implementing real change across the organization instead of filling out paperwork!

To simplify your EcoVadis journey, we created a five-step infographic: upgrade your ESG strategy and get your copy by clicking here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is EcoVadis?
What does EcoVadis measure?
What is a good EcoVadis score?

Related articles