Home » Swiss companies will need to step up their transparency game if they want to stay competitive

19/12/2019

By: 

Lundquist

Swiss companies will need to step up their transparency game if they want to stay competitive

Swiss companies are not keeping up with increased stakeholder expectations, and Lundquist has found that digital corporate transparency in Switzerland has stagnated this year. In a constantly evolving business environment marked by stakeholders that are evermore weary of big businesses, this holds particularly true.

These are the conclusions that have been drawn from the 16th Swiss edition of Webranking for listed companies. Webranking is Europe’s leading survey of corporate websites and the only ranking based on stakeholder demands. The research, conducted by Lundquist in Collaboration with Comprend, put the top 55 Swiss companies by stock market value under the lens.

Webranking 2019-2020

23rd international edition
16th Swiss listed edition
55 companies ranked in Switzerland
800+ companies ranked globally
400+ stakeholders interviewed

This year Swiss companies this year fell short of their performance in the past, and a loss of points should not be taken lightly. Although Swiss companies still fare well at the European level, companies risk lagging behind in terms of transparency.

Swiss transparency performance in a European context

The Swiss average of 47.5 points dropped from last year’s 50-point average (-2.5 points). This drop was entirely in line with the European average, which dropped by 2.1 points on average. Stakeholder expectations for transparency standards are undoubtedly more demanding. Over 70% of the companies considered in the individual country research (40 out of 55) have also been included in the Europe 500 list, a list composed of Europe’s largest companies by market-cap. A clear indication that corporate Switzerland continues to be well-represented on the Continent.

The Swiss average of 47.5 points dropped from last year’s 50-point average (-2.5 points). This drop was entirely in line with the European average, which dropped by 2.1 points on average. Stakeholder expectations for transparency standards are undoubtedly more demanding. Over 70% of the companies considered in the individual country research (40 out of 55) have also been included in the Europe500 list, a list composed of Europe’s largest companies by market-cap.

While Swiss companies fit well in the European average, they do not shine. In fact, the European podium is dominated by Italian and Nordic companies, while the top performing Swiss company comes in at 11th place in the Europe 500 list (Swisscom).  Sika and Sonova also make it into the top 15, and Givaudan in the top 25.

Swiss companies present bare sustainability commitments

While 82% of Swiss companies included in the research show they have sustainability commitments, 73% present no targets and achievements to substantiate their ambitions. Swiss companies on the whole tend to project an appealing image of sustainability, without however substantiating their presentations with hard facts and data.  Moreover, few companies connect ESG topics to their overall business strategies. Living in a post-truth world also means that transparency needs to do and prove more to be accepted. By coherently expressing how a company operates, its future goals, and its ambitions, sustainability can act as invaluable support to trust and credibility.

Companies in Switzerland lack concrete business strategies as well

67% of Swiss companies present their business strategy. These results confirm the need for there to be more attention given to companies’ perspectives on where they are now, and where they want to be in terms of financial performance, market context, and target lines. Moreover, even companies that do present strategies are lacking data that grounds it (targets and actions). That is only 11% present the actions that the company intends to take to meet their financial targets.

From ranking to rating

The goal of Webranking is not to stylize a ranking of best and worst websites, but rather to stimulate an overall culture of transparency. Because of this, we have decided to shift the focus away from a numerical ranking towards a rating on a range of 0 to 5 stars. Only one company reached a 5-star rating this year (at least 80 points), Swisscom tops the Swiss list for the third year running at 80.6 points. In the 4-star class we have 3 more companies, in order: Sika (79.4), Sonova (77.5), and Givaudan (70.8).

The bar has been risen, in today’s digital age mere transparency is no longer enough, companies need to present a convincing narrative of their strategies and commitments. Lundquist has responded with a new research series: .trust, communicating what matters.

Swiss companies have reached a good level of disclosure on their digital platforms, and it is now time to raise the bar. The challenge now is not only to engage users with transparent communication, but to ensure that an emotional connection is made through content to boost engagement with different audiences. In this, corporate communication plays an essential role.

For this reason, we have launched our new research .trust (pronounced “dot trust”) which evaluates the companies’ ability to effectively narrate their brand and business, to communicate their leadership and establish trust with their stakeholders. Only those have been able to pass the Webranking stress test have gained access to this research. The first edition of .trust for listed companies focuses on the largest Swiss companies, and will be published shortly. Our focus is to capture the ability of corporate communications to support’ competitiveness and to inspire trust, today’s business “currency.”

How Webranking can help you to improve

The Webranking analysis allows you to define solutions to improve your digital presence, understand digital trends, compare to peers, generate internal engagement, and identify pathways for future improvement.

For further information about the research, to receive the highlights with the score per areas and to order a tailored, interactive report, please contact:

Arianna Evans, arianna.evans@lundquist.it