What is the Digital Inclusion Benchmark?
The Digital Inclusion Benchmark tracks how tech companies are helping to advance a more inclusive digital society. Company commitments, disclosure and performance are evaluated under four measurement areas: access, skills, use, and innovation.
The benchmark is free, published annually and shared with government, investor and civil society stakeholders worldwide, including 200 Allies representing USD 7 trillion assets under management. During its first year, 2020, the benchmark assessed 100 of the world’s most influential digital technology companies, such as online platforms, network providers and equipment manufacturers. The results can be found here. Now in its second year, the benchmark scope has increased by 50 companies, and will reach 200 companies by 2023, to include all digital technology companies that are part of the SDG2000 – WBA’s list of the 2,000 most influential companies for helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
For more information about the development of the benchmark and how companies were selected, please refer to the methodology, available here.
How does participating in the Digital Inclusion Benchmark benefit my company?
The Digital Inclusion Benchmark represents an opportunity for companies to showcase their contributions to an inclusive digital society and to look to each other’s best practices in order to understand and improve on their own shortcomings. The benchmark also provides an avenue for the digital sector to form a global community of practice around digital inclusion and to coordinate and harmonise actions.
Companies are assessed based on information that is already public or can be made public. A scorecard is prepared for each company providing an opportunity for companies to recognise how they are being perceived by the wider public, including investors. By engaging closely with the benchmarking process, companies are able to get a more accurate picture of their own performance with respect to their global peers and key competitors. Companies who participate actively are also able to benefit from closer guidance on metrics and methodology, and WBA can closely consider their inputs in updating future iterations of the benchmark.
How does WBA compare companies across different industries and regulatory standards?
WBA conducted research and participated in a multi-stakeholder consultative process to ensure that the methodology and the indicators are meaningful across industries and geographies. Every effort has been made to choose measurement areas, indicators, and elements that are industry agnostic and apply across all companies. WBA is interested in company actions that go above and beyond regulatory requirements, making it regulation agnostic.
For more information about the development of the benchmark and how companies were selected, please refer to the methodology, here.
This year, WBA has integrated the social transformation into all other transformations. How will this affect the ranking of companies in the Digital Inclusion Benchmark?
WBA has committed to assessing all SDG2000 companies on social criteria by 2023 as part of integrating the social transformation into all other transformations. This means that a series of core social indicators will be applied to all SDG2000 companies, including those in the Digital Inclusion Benchmark. In 2021, the scores on the core social indicators will not affect the overall DIB rankings, but company performance on core social indicators will be discussed alongside their digital contributions. From 2022, the core social indicators will be integrated into the DIB methodology and ranking. Companies’ social benchmark scores will make up 20% of their overall digital inclusion score. Further information can be found in the social transformation framework.
The benchmark process
What is the assessment process and timeline for the 2021 Digital Inclusion Benchmark?
|Early – June to End August||Initial data gathering||A team of WBA analysts carries out the research of public information to pre-populate a questionnaire. This is to reduce the response burden for companies.|
|End August||Pre-populated questionnaires sent to all companies for verification||The pre-populated questionnaires will be sent to all companies. All companies will have one month to respond by verifying the data and/or sending additional information that is already publicly available or can be made publicly available. During this period, each company is provided an opportunity to engage with the research team by registering for one of the scheduled webinars. Should there be further clarifications needed after the webinar, WBA also provides companies the opportunity to schedule a call with the benchmark team. Companies are strongly encouraged to engage closely with WBA during this time period. Engagement has many benefits, including a more accurate assessment of the company’s performance.|
|End – September||End of the data collection period||Companies have until end-September (specific date to be communicated when the questionnaire is sent) to submit responses to the pre-populated questionnaire.|
|End -September to Mid November||Analysis, ranking, and drafting scorecards||WBA analyses the data and drafts company scorecards.|
|Early October – Mid November||Scorecards are sent to companies||Companies are provided a copy of draft scorecards to prepare external communications and to provide comments. All comments must be sent by mid-November in order to be incorporated in the final version.|
|October – November||Finalization of scorecards and benchmark results||WBA finalises the company scorecards and benchmark findings.|
|December||Publication||The 2021 Benchmark is released and individual company scorecards are made public.|
What information does the Digital Inclusion Benchmark use? Can companies submit additional information?
Please refer to the methodology and scoring guidelines for the indicators and elements used. The benchmark draws on publicly available data, which includes, but are not limited to annual reports, sustainability reports, integrated reports, and codes of conduct, as well as reports on specific areas such as cybersecurity or privacy. Companies can submit additional information that has not been made public but should be aware that all information submitted may be made public by WBA. As WBA holds transparency as a core principle, data will not be accepted under non-disclosure agreements.
Our company cannot actively participate during the assessment period. Will it be eliminated from the benchmark?
No. All companies are benchmarked using publicly available data, regardless of their active participation. However, engagement gives companies a unique opportunity to contribute to and give feedback on their own company scores. In addition, WBA works to help make the process as smooth and easy as possible and is always available for feedback.
Why is it important for companies to participate during the benchmarking process?
As highlighted in the process above, companies have several opportunities to interact with the Digital Inclusion Benchmark to ensure a more accurate assessment of their company’s performance. After the benchmark team sends the pre-populated questionnaire, companies can review, and add additional relevant information. They also have an opportunity to review the draft scorecards. Please note that adding information does not necessarily mean that it will be accepted if it does not meet the requirements of the indicator. Beyond these opportunities, companies are invited to reach out to their designated point of contacts research analysts at WBA for questions or clarifications at any time.
Our company was already benchmarked in 2020. Will there be any changes to the scoring?
The overall process and methodology will not change. However, drawing on what was learned in the first cycle, there may be some adjustments to specific indicators to more accurately reflect company activities. Please check back soon for the publication of the 2021 scoring guidelines.
What is the community of practice?
Due to popular requests, companies that engaged and responded to the survey request in the 2020 iteration of the benchmark have been invited to join the Community of Practice (CoP). The group provides an opportunity for companies to provide feedback on the benchmark process and exchange ideas about measurement of digital inclusion.
What languages does the Digital Inclusion Benchmark accept information in?
As benchmarks are used by international stakeholders, WBA’s preference is to receive information in English. However, given the large presence of the digital sector in China, allowances will be made for information submitted in Chinese.
For other non-English material, the Digital Inclusion Benchmark prefers to receive material that has been translated by the company.
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