New Leaders and Dramatic Contrasts in Business Sustainability Performance Revealed in Joint Study of Supply Chain ESG Ratings

December 9, 2021 EcoVadis EN

Companies in Finland, Sweden and France Establish Their Leadership

Paris, 8th December 2021

EcoVadis, the business sustainability ratings for global supply chains, and Le Médiateur des Entreprises, an agency of the French Ministry of Economic and Financial Affairs, announce the release of their joint study "Sustainability/CSR performance of European companies - comparison with OECD and BRICS". 

Based on more than 80,000 sustainability ratings between 2015 and 2020 from around 50,000 companies worldwide, the study provides rich and nuanced view of sustainability performance trends, with a focus on European companies and comparative performance against key global benchmarks. The analysis reveals  the leadership of companies based in Finland, Sweden and France in terms of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) management as well as their growing commitment to sustainable procurement.

The "Sustainability/CSR performance of European companies - Comparison with OECD and BRICS" study by Le Médiateur des Entreprises and EcoVadis draws insights from six years (2015-2020) of sustainability ratings of companies of all sizes and also highlights changes in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, compared to 2019.

This study is based on the statistical analysis of anonymised sustainability scorecards of nearly 50,000 companies over 6 years, from 2015 to 2020. The data collected do not allow us to observe the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the state of the customer-supplier relationship. The trends are indeed stable between 2019 and 2020. The availability of the EcoVadis Index 2022 dataset will make it possible to compare the behaviour of companies in 2020 and 2021 in order to identify possible effects on the customer-supplier relationship during the health and economic crisis.

Finnish, Swedish and French companies consolidate their position on the 2020 global sustainability podium

At the global level, out of the entire European Union/OECD/BRICS sample, French companies of all sizes rank just behind Finland (1st) and Sweden (2nd).

In OECD region, UK, now out of the European union, is in 4th place. Germany (15th), is just below the OECD average (14th). Canada and The United States lags further behind at respectively 20th and 25th place. 

The BRICS concluded the ranking despite improvements in their averages. India is now above the BRICS average.

From 2015 to 2020, France had one of the most significant increase in average scores in the European Union, behind four countries that are catching up most quickly: Italy (53.6), Belgium (52.9), Spain (52.9) and Germany (50.4). As in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, the progress in France can be seen in both large companies and those with fewer than 1,000 employees.

European companies, the most advanced in terms of Sustainable Procurement

The breakdown by country within the European Union shows that a growing number of "leading" companies have already reached the level of exemplary performance (65/100). Thus, 13% of companies in the European Union evaluated in 2020 have an exemplary level of management of sustainability. In Finland, Sweden and France, these "leading" companies already represent respectively  21%, 17% et 19% of the total, which has a positive impact. This provides great inspiration for others companies to follow, and strive for ever higher performance.

In terms of the Sustainable Procurement theme score (one of four themes in the Rating process), among the three major regions of the world studied, the European Union is clearly in the lead with an average score of 42.4 in 2020... even if this score remains very low in relation to the challenges. European countries also have the highest proportion of "leading companies” per country, which are mainly large companies. These results reflect the advanced regulatory developments taking place on supply chain due diligence and the importance of the sustainable procurement lever for both public and private actors.

From the Sustainable Procurement Score to a Responsible Purchasing Journey 

A company does not become a champion in responsible purchasing overnight: the notion of a journey is more relevant, as it highlights the need for continuous improvement. This idea of an approach that is established over time, in stages, is precisely the spirit of the new french National Sustainable Purchasing Pathway co-piloted by Le médiateur des entreprises and the French National Purchasing Council (CNA). Supported by the public authorities, this initiative “Relations fournisseurs et Achats Responsables” ("Responsible Purchasing and Supplier Relations") is aligned with the ISO 20400 standard and aims to accompany organisations that commit to it.

The goal is to assure "positive impact" purchases, as defined by the ISO 20400 guidance standard: "purchases whose environmental, social and economic impacts are as positive as possible over the entire life cycle".

The Médiateur des Entreprises and EcoVadis, both at the heart of the customer-supplier relationship, can only hope to see this trend grow in 2022. 

This movement that is taking shape encourages the greatest number of European companies to embrace responsible purchasing (also called sustainable procurement) and thus participate in the creation of an ecosystem with the greatest possible positive impact.

"These results reflect the very positive dynamic in which European companies on country level are engaged. Their efforts on sustainability issues are ongoing, and Finnish, Swedish and French companies are managing their Sustainability/CSR practices in an increasingly structured way. In terms of responsible purchasing, among the three major regions of the world studied, the European union is clearly in the lead in 2020... even if there remains much work  to be done, European companies continue to show their Sustainability/CSR leadership, which will be the subject of a European directive in 2022," says Sylvain GUYOTON, Senior Vice President Research at EcoVadis.


For Pierre PELOUZET, corporate “Ombudsman”, reporting to the French Minister for the Economy, Finance and Recovery : A few weeks before taking over the presidency of the EU on 1 January 2022, France is playing a leading role in the Responsible Purchasing issue. It thus has an additional asset to adopt the directive on the duty of care in environmental and human rights matters in value chains. It demonstrates that a European economic model is possible, based on a responsible transformation of companies at the level of their networks and partners.

To access the study, go to the FR EcoVadis website

About EcoVadis

EcoVadis is the world's most trusted provider of business sustainability ratings. Global supply chains, financial institutions and public organizations rely on EcoVadis to monitor and improve the sustainability performance of their business and trading partners. Backed by a powerful technology platform, EcoVadis’ evidence-based ratings are validated by a global team of experts, and are adapted to more than 200 industry categories, 160 countries, and companies of all sizes. Its actionable scorecards provide benchmarks, insights, and a guided improvement journey for environmental, social and ethical practices. Industry leaders such as Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, Unilever, LVMH, Salesforce, Bridgestone, BASF, and ING Group are among the 85,000 businesses that collaborate with EcoVadis to drive resilience, sustainable growth and positive impact worldwide. Learn more on ecovadis.comTwitter or LinkedIn.


About the Médiateur des entreprises :

The Mission of the Médiateur des entreprises is to contribute to build confidence among Economic players and hence stimulate competitiveness and growth through :

  • Assisting any business experiencing contractual and/or relationship problems with a business partner, irrespective of business size or sector, by implementing a simple, free, professional, and totally confidential procedure of amicable conflict resolution.

  • Defining and deploying “virtuous” mechanisms to sustainably foster collaborative relations between private and public sector players of the french economy 

For more than 10 years, the Médiateur des entreprises in coordination with CNA, develops and deploys new tools to create a climate of confidence between players of the Economy through better practices in sustainable procurement : from a Charter on Responsible Purchasing and Supplier Relations to a Responsible Purchasing and Supplier Relations label. The objective of this turnkey system is to further encourage public and private players to engage in responsible purchasing and to commit to the labelling process. Its network is present throughout France and can be contacted at

About the Author

EcoVadis EN

EcoVadis is a purpose-driven company whose mission is to provide the world's most trusted business sustainability ratings. Businesses of all sizes rely on EcoVadis’ expert intelligence and evidence-based ratings to manage risk and compliance, drive decarbonization, and improve the sustainability performance of their business and value chain. Its AI-powered risk mapping, actionable scorecards, benchmarks, carbon action tools, and insights guide a resilience and improvement journey for environmental, social and ethical practices across 200 industry categories and 175 countries.

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