Pursuing the investigations conducted by various authors in 2003 on the potential role of businesses in the social field, Futuribles publishes here an article by François Fatoux and Frédéric Tiberghien on the evaluation of the non-financial aspects of firms. After a brief outline of how the concept of socially responsible investment (SRI) developed, the authors discuss the main agencies concerned with assessing the social performance of firms, in France and in Europe and elsewhere. They describe the methodologies adopted by these bodies, the means used and the ways in which these efforts are gradually making firms and stock markets take account of non-financial criteria in evaluating performance.
In this regard, the growing professionalization of such agencies is clearly a measure of their acknowledged usefulness and this should strengthen their credibility in future. If in addition there is a clean-up of murky accounting practices (such as were revealed by the Enron and WorldCom scandals in 2002), there are good reasons to hope that (good) governance of firms will in the end coincide with the all-too-necessary aims of sustainable development.