Geneva-based Covalence’s ethical quotation system is based on data from 45 criteria such as labour standards, waste management and environmental impact of production. It acts as a barometer of how multinationals are perceived in an ethical context.

Unilever came top in the overall category, which assesses companies’ performance from 2002 to 2007. Toyota and HSBC are second and third respectively, while BP has dropped out of the top ten overall ranking. Toyota and M&S head the best ethical progress category, judged solely on 2007.

Covalence says issues of growing importance in 2007 include environmental production impact, eco-innovation and anti-corruption policy, while social impact and labour standards have lost importance.