The Ultimate Guide To EcoVadis
What is EcoVadis?
Founded in 2007, EcoVadis is today one of the world’s most comprehensive sustainability rating tools, assessing private and public companies on social, ethical and environmental impacts. Over the last decade, it has built a network of more than 65,000 rated companies around the globe.
The EcoVadis assessment is a paid service to rate a company’s material sustainability impact based on thorough documentation analysis (unlike many other ESG rating agencies that exist). The assessment is available to all companies and can be used as a tool to ensure transparency across the supply chain. Companies (or ‘buyers’) can request their suppliers to undergo the EcoVadis assessment by sending them an invitation, after which they will receive notifications on the process and results.
EcoVadis’ methodology is built - and continuously updated - on international sustainability standards (UNGC, GRI, ISO, and more), which they have used to identify 21 indicators across four main pillars: Environment, Labour and Human Rights, Ethics and Sustainable Procurement. The themes and the related indicators are shown in the image below.
How to get certified?
The EcoVadis Certification process is a 5-step journey that starts with registration and ends with recognition.
Step 1: Registration
The first step to receiving an EcoVadis certification is to register on the EcoVadis website. You will be asked to create a company profile, specify your business activity and update your contact information. This information is then used by EcoVadis to build a customized questionnaire for your company based on your industry sector, the country of operations and the size.
If your company was invited to undergo an EcoVadis assessment, you should follow the link in the email invitation. This will allow the requesting company to follow your progress and be notified when your results go live.
Step 2: Questionnaire
Once the registration is complete, you will receive an email with your username and the instructions and link to create your password to access the platform.
Upon entering the platform, you will land on the Dashboard page where you can check the progress you made, the latest news from EcoVadis, and where you can start completing the questionnaire. As mentioned before, the questionnaire is customized to your company, as shown by the example below.
You can now start filling in the questionnaire by answering the questions and uploading the required documents. For support, you can contact the EcoVadis Help Center at support.ecovadis.com.
Step 3: Expert analysis
Once you have completed and submitted your questionnaire, appointed EcoVadis experts will analyse your answers and the documents uploaded to check whether your answers are supported by the right documents and respect EcoVadis criteria. The process itself takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks.
Step 4: Results
Once your answers have been analyzed and results are published, you will be notified via email. Your answer will be distilled into a Scorecard, as shown in the example below. In the Scorecard, you will find:
- Your overall score with the average industry score (black marker);
- The scores across the four sustainability themes and average industry score per theme;
- Each pillar’s weight (from 1 to 4).
Sample scorecard (Source: EcoVadis)
In addition to your main scorecard, you will also be able to access detailed scorecards per sustainability pillar, as shown in the figure below. In this section, you will find what EcoVadis considers to be your company strengths, meaning everything your company has in place which helps it implement its sustainability strategy (e.g. good environmental policies, recruitment process clearly communicated to candidates). Also, remember that strengths should never be overlooked as what is a strength today might become an improvement area tomorrow. In other words, EcoVadis focuses on continuous improvement, meaning there is no sustainability ‘end state’.
In the detailed scorecard, you will also find the specific improvement identified by EcoVadis analysis, as shown in the example below. Improvement areas can be categorized according to three levels:
- Low importance (Green);
- Medium importance (Orange);
- High importance (Red).
The EcoVadis Carbon Scorecard
As of 2021, EcoVadis systematically asks questions about the state of your climate strategy by requiring in-depth information regarding:
This will lead to a separate scorecard providing a specific ranking to your organisation’s Carbon Management Level. The results are ranged from Insufficient to Leader.
The scorecard will be divided into strengths and improvement areas, in the same way as the sustainability scorecard.
Beginning 2022, the results are still not impacting your overall EcoVadis score. However, considering the increasing focus and pressure on private sector carbon reduction plans, this might not be the case for very long.
What can you do to improve you Carbon Scorecard?
Similar to the EcoVadis scorecard that you are used to, the platform provides strengths and improvement areas on each of the score pillars. For Commitments, organisations are rated on the strength of their targets. Sumitting a Science-Based Target, for example, could impact the score in this area.
Under Actions, organisations are rated on their activities related to reducing emissions.
Finally, Reporting assesses organisations on the completeness and relevance of the data that is reported. Some things to consider are having an updated inventory and reporting on scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
Step 5: Recognition
Once you receive your score, you might also receive your EcoVadis medal. No medals are assigned for overall scores below 45 or if there is a theme score that is lower than 20. A company can receive a bronze medal (45>), silver medal (54>), gold medal (66>), or platinum medal (73>).
The medal reports the year in which the assessment was completed and can be used on your company’s website and in communications. In addition, you will be able to share the results on the EcoVadis website with other companies in your supply chain network. EcoVadis’ sustainability scorecard is valid for 12 months after publication. Once the 12 months have passed you will still be able to access your scorecard but will no longer be able to share the results publicly. You can find more information on your scorecard validity in your EcoVadis platform, next to the publication date.
The EcoVadis Methodology
EcoVadis analyses a company’s environmental or sustainability management system according to three aspects: policies in place, actions taken, and results. Let’s delve into each of these scoring categories.
Policies make up 20% of the overall score. As such, it is an important focus area when evaluating your environmental management system. Policies are crucial because they carry your mission, outline your value statements and guide your company towards implementing them. When analysing the quality of your policies, EcoVadis scores as follows:
To determine the score, the EcoVadis assessment looks at:
- Whether the policy in place covers relevant (“activated”) criteria depending on company size and industry;
- The presence of qualitative objectives;
- The presence of quantitative objectives (targets);
- The presence of sustainability reporting tools to monitor the objectives and track progress (governance);
- The presence of a review mechanism in order to keep the policy up to date;
- The scope of application: whether the policy covers all employees and all company sites.
EcoVadis also looks at the external endorsements (5% of overall score) that the assessed company supports, in order to evaluate commitment and proactivity towards socio-environmental initiatives and industry-specific ambitions. Examples of such endorsements are commitments to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the UN Global Compact, and CDP.
EcoVadis evaluates the actions taken to support objectives set in each of the four pillars (environment, labour, business ethics, sustainable procurement). Measures account for 26% of the overall score and as such, represent the most important category that EcoVadis evaluates. In other words, it forms the backbone of your environmental management system.
The methodology scores your measures as follows:
To determine the score, the EcoVadis assessment looks at:
- Relevance: whether the measures taken cover relevant (“activated”) criteria depending on company size and industry;
- Applicability: if the documentation attached properly answers the question asked;
- Validity: if the proof is valid enough (i.e., up to date, clear that the documentation belongs to the company);
- Coverage (how many sites or entities does your measure cover). The company’s “measures” score is heavily influenced by the coverage factor.
To state the obvious: certifications provide external validation and quality assurance of a company’s management system, products, or services. Showcasing external certifications will have a positive impact on a company’s score as it represents 14% of the overall score. Examples of CSR certifications include ISO standards, SMETA audits, or SA8000.
To determine the score, the EcoVadis assessment looks at:
- Legitimacy (certificate issued by independent and accredited third-party organisation);
- Validity (the certificate is up to date);
- Inclusion of CSR issues;
- Coverage (how many sites does your measure cover). The company’s measure score is heavily influenced by the coverage factor.
Proper reporting demonstrates that a company has set, measured, and monitored relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). It shows that company actions, as formulated in the policies, are oriented towards improvement. Sustainable reporting constitutes 14% of the total points allocated in the EcoVadis score, and is scored as follows:
To determine the score, the EcoVadis assessment looks at:
- Relevance: whether the KPIs in place cover relevant (“activated”) criteria depending on company size and industry;
- Transparency: whether the KPIs are publicly available to stakeholders;
- Timeliness: if the reporting is up to date (within last 2 years);
- Comparability: over time and to peers;
- Coverage: whether the reporting relates to the evaluated entity (the KPI cannot be from the parent company).
EcoVadis uses an artificial intelligence algorithm which searches for positive and negative news related to an organisation’s sustainability activities in the public domain. The 360 Watch accounts for 20% of the total points allocated. Depending on the findings, the 360° Watch management indicator will score a company as follows:
To determine the score, the EcoVadis assessment scrapes:
- Official statements or publications of administrative government bodies;
- The content of court rulings or legal settlements;
- Factual statements by the press or organisations, which are recognised as working by scientific standards and financially neutral to the content of said statements, e.g. independent NGOs.
According to the EcoVadis methodology, the 360° score is set at 75 points by default and may be scored up or down based on the following principles:
- Timing of facts of the case;
- Nature of case: positive or negative;
- Severity of cases with negative impact: severity may be due to a variety of factors such as repeated occurrence, percentage of workforce involved, amount of financial sanction, etc.
Tips & Best Practices from Our Experts
Assign a project manager
Assigning a responsible person that oversees the project will greatly help the organisation. This person should be responsible for gathering all documentation from all pillars, keeping a document database, as well as filling-in the survey online. Throughout the years, having an ambassador for opening the new questionnaire and taking care of platform-specific matters (e.g., opening the questionnaire, making sure the deadline is met, sharing EcoVadis results with commercial partners) will be valuable to centralise the information.
Assign a specific contact person per pillar.
These individuals are most knowledgeable on the pillar-specific internal operations and should closely work with the project manager to provide information and documentation. Here is a list of commonly responsible roles to involve in the EcoVadis process, per pillar:
- Environment: EHS Manager, Quality Manager, Sustainability Manager.
- Labour & Human Rights: HR Manager, EHS Manager, Sustainability Manager.
- Business Ethics: Finance Manager, IT Manager, Compliance manager
- Sustainable Procurement: Procurement Manager, Account/Product Manager Sustainability Manager.
Making Sure Your Documentation is Accepted
Your EcoVadis assessments predominantly relies on the documentation submitted on the platform. This is why making sure that documentation is taken into account by EcoVadis is essential. Here are a couple of mistakes to avoid when it comes to the type, age, and format of documentation:
Make sure your documents are up to date. EcoVadis will generally reject documents older than 8 years. When it comes to KPIs and audit reports, the validity period is as early as 2 years.
EcoVadis needs to understand that the documentation provided belongs to the organisation being assessed. This is why we highly recommend always having a company name or logo on the documentation presented. Similarly, documents from external parties will be rejected, unless this specific document makes reference to your organisation. For the same reason, pictures will be rejected.
The EcoVadis assessment being a documentation audit, some essential elements of sustainability management systems can sometimes be left out. However, EcoVadis provides opportunities to contextualise its documents and give additional information:
Attached to each question in the survey are comment boxes which allow organisations to give context to the document. We advise making use of these comments, especially when the document provided needs clarification. Think about elements like “who is in charge of the process”, “how frequently is the procedure revised”, or “when was this action created “.
At the end of each pillar under the questionnaire, EcoVadis allows organisations to provide additional comments through the “ENV800”, “LAB800”, “FBP800”, and “SP800” questions. We recommend using this opportunity to bring forward some aspects that were not necessarily requested in the survey: what are your key sustainability priorities for the upcoming years? Did a specific challenge prevent your organisation from implementing certain processes? Have you obtained a specific award or recognition?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the price range?
Companies subscribe to an annual fee that covers the EcoVadis assessment, access to the EcoVadis platform, access to beneficial EcoVadis resources, and ability to share the company’s performance with customers. Find more details about pricing according to company size in this support article.
Is it possible to get a reassessment?
Since the EcoVadis assessment is valid for a period of 12 months, it is recommended to conduct assessments annually. Moreover, companies can conduct reassessments for the following reasons:
- If EcoVadis assessment validity has expired;
- If additional evidence could be used and was not submitted in the previous assessment;
- If your EcoVadis rating is lower than that asked by a trading partner and trading partner requires the company to get reassessed.
It is recommended to take time to understand your scorecard before requesting a reassessment on the EcoVadis platform.
Why get certified through EcoVadis?
An EcoVadis certification can bring multiple benefits to an organisation, among which:
- Better understanding of your organisation’s environmental management system (understand your strengths and weaknesses with regards to the Environment, Labour & Human Rights, Ethics, and Sustainable Procurement themes);
- Increased supplier selection likelihood and evaluation scores due to transparency on socio-environmental performance;
- Increase Stakeholder trust and gain legitimacy;
- Industry benchmarking opportunities;
- Better insights into the material issues specific to one’s organisation;
- Ability to share your scores with your partners.
Does EcoVadis offer support?
Yes, EcoVadis can offer support through its support platform, where common questions about registration, payment, the questionnaire, the expert analysis and the results can be answered.
However, EcoVadis will not provide help on optimising the questionnaire completion. As EcoVadis’ worldwide certified partner, it is Nexio’s role to assist you in assessment completions, assessment reviews, implementations, and GAP analyses. You can reach out to Nexio Projects here if you would like to receive professional assistance on your EcoVadis assessment.
Should we respond on a group or subsidiary level?
The answer to this question will depend on your company’s situation, more specifically on the coverage of the documentation provided, and on the partner requests.
On a group level, you need to ensure that the documentation provided covers all the underlying entities for optimal scoring. If the documentation doesn’t provide enough coverage, the risk of responding on a group level is to receive a lower score. For instance, if a company is only ISO certified for a site in x country, the documentation will not provide full coverage as sites in y and z countries are not ISO certified. In this case, it may be more beneficial to conduct the assessment on a subsidiary level (e.g., on site from company x only). While policies can generally provide full coverage, this is especially important for the measures and reporting questions, as sustainability practices differ from entities and therefore cannot be considered equal.
The decision will also depend on the request to participate in the EcoVadis assessment. Requests can generally target specific entities in cases where only the specific entity is related to a partner organisation (e.g., if a partner only supplies its raw materials from a specific facility). Conversely, requests can target the overarching organisation when the whole group is tied to a partner, which forms a good rationale for conducting the assessment on a group level. It may be more logical to complete the group assessment if multiple entities are requested to complete the questionnaire.
How should I prepare my team for the EcoVadis assessment?
As the assessment covers a variety of themes, it may be wise to gather multiple people across departments. Ideally, the people gathered have both (1) knowledge in the topic; (2) access to relevant documentation.
Generally speaking, the environmental questions can better be answered by the CSR manager, who is best able to answer topics of waste, GHG emissions, and sustainable consumption among others. In addition, the Labour & Human rights questions can often be best answered by the HR manager who has insights on recruitment policies and working conditions. Naturally, the sustainable procurement can best be tackled by someone in the purchasing team. Finally, the ethics section can be addressed by the IT or compliance department. Other relevant roles include managing directors, or even company owners.
Do we need to take the assessment every year?
Yes. An EcoVadis medal stays valid for one year. Therefore, if a company wishes to maintain a valid medal, it should be reassessed on a yearly basis. This also comes with the possibility to increase the score, as EcoVadis makes recommendations based on corrective actions, thus orienting organisations towards improvement.
How long does it take to complete the process?
- The questionnaire completion process takes as long as the assigned team takes to gather the relevant documentation to answer the questions. Once the questionnaire is opened, EcoVadis grants companies 3 weeks to complete it. It is however not uncommon to request a deadline extension by contacting EcoVadis.
- Once a company submitted the questionnaire, the evaluation process (expert analysis phase) takes on average 6-8 weeks.
- The EcoVadis Scorecard and medal are valid for 12 months.
Can I ask my suppliers to complete the EcoVadis Assessment?
A key feature of the EcoVadis platform is its ability to manage supplier relationships and increase transparency through supplier assessment requests. The platform allows companies (or ‘buyers’) to request their suppliers to undergo the EcoVadis assessment by sending them an invitation, after which they will receive notifications on the process and results.
Is the EcoVadis assessment available in multiple languages?
The EcoVadis assessment can be conducted in 8 languages: English, French, Spanish, Dutch, German, Italian, Portuguese and Chinese. However, documents can be submitted in all languages, there is no need for translating.