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University of Bayreuth, Presse release No. 026/2023 - 15 March 2023

New sustainability rating: Impacts of companies, products and services at the center for the first time

Prof. Dr. Dr. Alexander Brink from the University of Bayreuth, together with concern GmbH, a spin-off from the Philosophy & Economics study programme in Bayreuth, has developed a rating that for the first time explicitly measures the contribution of a company, product or service to sustainable development. Hallesche Krankenversicherung from Stuttgart was the first company to successfully complete the rating process.

The new rating from Bayreuth is an offer to companies and requires their active participation. It assesses the conditions for a company, product or service to contribute to sustainable development on the basis of five criteria: First, it is important to ask whether a company even has the necessary competence to manage its own processes in such a way that sustainability impacts are achieved. In addition, corporate processes, products and services are assessed to determine the extent to which they are geared toward sustainability. A new key criterion is the impact actually achieved by corporate activities in the areas of the environment, social affairs and good corporate governance. These effects should not only be clearly identifiable, but also objectively evaluable, which is why measurable indicators are added as an additional criterion. Finally, companies should proactively promote the scope of their contribution to sustainable development – both internally and to their customers and other external stakeholders.

A rating that identifies and evaluates the actual sustainability impacts achieved by companies, products and services is currently also gaining in importance because the EU wants to significantly expand the number of companies obliged to report on sustainability from 2024 and increase the requirements for the reports. This is provided for in the already adopted "Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)". In the future, too, the focus at EU level will be on the ESG factors: Environment, Social and Governance. "We need to move away from pure actionism and greenwashing by companies to comparable sustainability impact. The EU has now defined the guard rails, now the market must take over again. With the Sustainability Impact Rating, we want to make a contribution to this – we are breaking real new ground with the architecture of our rating, which never evaluates individual products and services independently of the overall sustainability impact of a company," says Prof. Dr. Dr. Alexander Brink, Chair of Business and Corporate Ethics at the University of Bayreuth.

Current economic studies show: Sustainability has become a competitive advantage for companies. This advantage is particularly pronounced when companies not only align their actions with appropriate ethical and legal standards, but demonstrably bring about greater sustainability as a result. "Sustainable transformation only succeeds when different disciplines such as ethics and economics work together in practice," explains Brink, who researches and teaches in the interlocking area of Bayreuth's Philosophy & Economics program. "It needs, first, a consistent link between attitude, action and impact; second, relevance on the customer side; and third, a shared understanding of sustainability in the ESG factors as defined in the new reporting standard. On this basis, we have now developed a rating system that combines these different elements."

"We are proud to have the University of Bayreuth as a strong and competent partner for the transfer into practice," says Dr. Markus Groß-Engelmann, partner and rating expert at concern GmbH. "The University of Bayreuth stands for the topic of sustainability in all its facets: from research and teaching, to further education, social entrepreneurship and the activities around the sustainability office GreenCampus."

Based on the new sustainability ranking, Hallesche Krankenversicherung a. G. was recently recognized as a health partner in the area of private and company health insurance. "The rating gives us an initial external assessment that shows us where we are already well positioned and where we can still develop further," says Wiltrud Pekarek, who is responsible for Hallesche Krankenversicherung on the ALH Group's Board of Management.

Link to the sustainability impact rating:

Prof. Dr. Dr. Alexander Brink.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Alexander Brink

Business and Corporate Ethics
University of Bayreuth

Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-4122
E-mail: alexander.brink@uni-bayreuth.de

Christian Wißler, Wissenschaftskommunikation

Christian Wißler

Deputy Press & PR Manager, Research Communication
University of Bayreuth

Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5356
E-mail: christian.wissler@uni-bayreuth.de