National Consumers League

NCL statement on new University of Massachusetts Amherst sociology research examining corporate ratings

September 17, 2014

Contact: Ben Klein, National Consumers League, benk@nclnet.org, (202) 835-3323

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, today welcomes newly published research on corporate ratings awards conducted by sociologists Tom Juravich and Essie Ablavsky of the University of Massachusetts Labor Center.  In “The Corporate Rating Sham: The Case of T-Mobile,” Juravich and Ablavsky found that these awards are largely self-serving and neither objective nor scientific.  

“This exposé of these ubiquitous corporate awards is an important service to consumers.  Too often, firms tout their awards as symbols of performance excellence, and too often they are little more than marketing ploys,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL executive director.

According to Juravich and Ablavsky’s findings, the majority of these corporate recognition contests are based on self-nomination and company self-reports with little independent verification of data.  Awards programs lack transparency in the selection and evaluation criteria.  Some of the awards firms also provide consulting services to the very companies they are rating, creating a built-in conflict of interest.

The new research highlights the case of T-Mobile, the fourth-largest mobile service provider in the United States, which claims to be the recipient of at least 47 “best of” awards from 2011 to 2013.  Yet, this is a company that has been a target of concern among Members of Congress, investors, and progressive organizations for its poor treatment of workers, ranging from overbearing and disrespectful management styles, to suppression of workers’ rights. 

“T-Mobile is a good demonstration of what is wrong with corporate recognition awards,” said Greenberg. “The company’s well-known problematic labor practices put these ‘best of’ awards in doubt. A company’s treatment of workers must be a key factor in any ratings process, and awards for quality must not be allowed to mask abusive workplace policies.” 

The full report, “The Corporate Rating Sham: The Case of T-Mobile,” can be viewed here.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.