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Self-serving surveys

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

We’ve noticed an upsurge in self-serving surveys by activist groups and media outlets, trying to set and spring traps for businesses.

In June this year, Stuff sent an email to NZ companies asking them to provide data to rate them on an ‘environmental scorecard’. Stuff said companies that did not participate would score lowest due to “lack of transparency”.

What participants in that scorecard could expect was revealed in this month’s review by Tearfund and Baptist World Aid of the ethical operation of 25 footwear companies. Hannahs, Number 1 Shoes did not participate, and therefore scored 0/100. Neither did Allbirds, which nonetheless scored 26.72/100 based on publicly released data.

The results were published in a balanced Herald article which gave the companies a chance to explain. They were also published in a non-balanced article by Stuff, which headlined the companies scoring zero without explaining it was only because they had not participated.

These reports are designed not to represent companies fairly but to extort performance that matches the standards demanded by activist organisations.

The footwear report shows that participating results in measures that are presented as only marginally better than those who don’t participate. Those that don’t participate can dismiss the results and highlight performances that matter more to customers.

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