The Moral Rating Agency was born after Russia’s February 24th invasion of Ukraine. This was the catalyst, but our name reflects our plan to expand beyond the morality of doing business with Russia and cover corporate moral behavior on other critical political issues.
Right now, the imperative is to get Russia out of Ukraine and use this momentum to help pro-democracy Russians get Putin and his regime out of Russia. We call this first project ‘Still Supporting Russia?’.
The focus of the Moral Rating Agency in the future will be to show the moral behavior of individual companies on a specific critical issue or involvement with a particular country harming the world or its own people.
Our ratings will be particularly powerful for publicly-traded companies or ones that have consumer brands. A large majority of companies falls into one of these categories. Our ratings will empower investors and consumers to identify, and then pressure, capitalistically-focused companies to act morally with global political responsibility. We believe it is every person’s moral responsibility to use their spending or investing power to influence companies by becoming part of this Moral Ecosystem.
In addition to exposing and crediting companies through moral ratings, we will maintain an Indelible Ledger of their behavior so any later corrective actions do not wipe the slate clean. Time is of the essence, so a rating system should include a disincentive for delay through exposing and tracking what preceded a later action.
Ratings of corporate political moral behavior on single topics are not currently easy to find in the world.
This is because ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) rating agencies have a practical commercial responsibility to their institutional investor clients to cover the range of issues that the investors wish. This is not to detract from the objectivity that ESGs show towards the companies they rate. The result of their commercial realities, however, is that they are producing ratings that cover a wide range of environmental, social and governance issues.
This holistic view makes it impossible in practice for them to focus ratings on any single type of responsibility, such as corporate political morality, and much less on a single topic, such as getting out of Russia.
Indeed, if the ESGs’ ratings were updated to focus on the corporate response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as we have done, more than half of the largest companies in the world would get downgraded. Institutional investors would then be forced either to ignore the ratings that they tell their investors they adhere to, or to divest these companies from their portfolios. This would dramatically impact stock markets and drive up the price of the minority of companies receiving a good rating. ESG rating agencies are mature businesses with a customer base. They are thus commercially unable to rate such a narrow hot topic even if they wanted to.
The Moral Rating Agency is a focused rating agency undiluted by other factors, zeroing in on single-topic political corporate moral ratings. We are stepping in to fill this information gap.
The Moral Rating Agency was founded and is led by Mark Dixon, who runs a mergers & acquisitions consultancy in the City of London trading under the brands Thinking Linking and the1. He was a co-founder of the online financial commentator BreakingViews.com, which is today part of Thomson Reuters. Mark has been opposed to autocratic regimes in recent decades, particularly the Chinese government but also Putin’s transformation of Russia from a nascent democracy into a full-throttled autocracy. He has a personal connection with Ukraine and since 2010 has owned an apartment in the city of Lviv.
A recent article by Mark setting out his view of the geopolitical importance of destroying the Russian economy – ‘The Chess Game of History – Autocracy vs. Democracy’ – is published in English and Ukrainian.
The Moral Rating Agency is located in the ThinkingLinking office in the City of London and has a paid staff comprising moral raters, verifiers, and fact-checkers who operate according to our Rating Methodology. Also, we have on-site staff involved in statistics, press relations, social media, company brand research, and site production and publishing.
We have no customers, external commercial relationships, nor conflicts of any kind. We wish to be a place where consumers, media and governments can see corporate behavior on each topic rated on a fair and standardized basis, albeit that we feel strongly about the underlying topic in question as explained in Rating Philosophy.
The team working on the ‘Still Supporting Russia?’ project consists of Ukrainian, British, American, Chinese, Korean, Lithuanian, Madagascan, Russian, Turkish, and Singaporean colleagues. This team includes:
Some members of our team are not disclosed on this site at their request but we appreciate their continuing valuable work. Most of us are in London, but some are in Ukraine and Netherlands.
We plan to expand our work to other autocracies with similar projects of corporate ratings in due course. If you wish, see Support Us.