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Bahar Gidwani


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CSRHub - What's Changed After Ten Years of CSR Ratings: Part Two

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 8, 2018 9:12:11 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

Part 2 of a 2-part series.

In 2008 CSRHub began measuring performance in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Using ten years of history, we are now starting to answer questions such as: 

  • Has CSR performance improved over time?
  • What area of CSR is improving the most?
  • Is the universe of companies for which ratings are available expanding beyond the large public corporations?
  • How strong is the alignment between CSR performance and company CSR reporting on CSR?

 

More Data on More Companies

A dramatic increase in ratings sources beyond Wall Street-driven and research companies has expanded the field of companies for which ratings can be developed.  For example, the number of companies and other entities studied by CSRHub has increased from 2,000 in 2008 to 18,000 in 2018. In 2008, the major sources of data were the analyst research houses which covered only large public companies. While this data produces rich consistent opinion matrices and remains a vital component of the CSRHub system, other crowd sources, not-for-profit groups, publications, and government regulators helped expand the covered universe to include smaller companies, not-for-profit organizations, and government entities.

 CSRHub Uncover Ratings

 

Still a Disconnect Between Reporting and Performance

One of the reasons we developed CSRHub was because we felt there was a disconnect between reporting (what companies said about themselves) and performance (what companies actually do).  We could not find a way to pierce the veil and determine performance directly.  This is why we created a proxy based on the aggregate opinion of how a company is performing on ESG (environment, social, governance) issues, from a wide range of expert sources.  Our scores build a feedback loop so that companies can see how their performance and reporting are perceived.  We hope they will use this feedback to improve both the truth about their corporate social behavior and what they tell their stakeholders about themselves.

We recently launched a new tool in partnership with Bloomberg that illustrates clearly that reporting and performance are still only loosely related.  The chart below shows for the S&P 100 a measure of disclosure (the horizontal axis is the percent of Bloomberg’s 900 sustainability indicators that have been captured for each company) against a measure of perceived sustainability performance (CSRHub’s overall rating).  The correlation between these measures is only 28%.  This indicates that there must be other “explanatory variables” that drive how a company’s ESG performance is perceived, besides the extent of its sustainability disclosures.

 ESGHub

 

Looking Ahead at CSR Trends

We don’t expect to see many major new analyst-driven sources of ESG data emerge.  It is expensive and time-consuming to use human analysts to review and weigh a company’s sustainability performance.  We’ve seen new data sets that are driven by news reports, tweets, or other bottoms up evidence.  These sets are interesting, but we have not seen much correlation between them and the many other sources we review.  There are many new sources of data coming from not-for-profit groups—especially those who have focused on supply chain issues.  We also expect government-regulation-driven disclosures to expose more small and mid-size companies—especially in Europe and parts of Asia.

Our big data-driven system seems to be working well and producing useful insights into the relative sustainability performance of thousands of companies.  We plan to continue growing our coverage and tying the signals from our data to tools that can be used by companies, analysts, activists and researchers around the world.

With the exception of the still-broad gap between disclosure and performance metrics, CSR has moved forward over the last ten years.  CSRHub will continue to track the change in emphasis on core issues and incorporate new data sets as they emerge. What gets measured – and reported – is what gets implemented.  We’ll keep working to help keep CSR moving forward for the next ten years.

 

Download the full report

 


Bahar_Gidwani-10Bahar Gidwani has built and run large technology-based businesses for many years. Bahar holds a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) and was one of the first people to receive the FSA (Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting) designation from SASB. Bahar worked on Wall Street with Kidder, Peabody, and with McKinsey & Co. He has founded several technology-based companies and is a co-founder of CSRHub, the world’s broadest source of corporate social responsibility information. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy. He plays bridge, races sailboats, and is based in New York City.

CSRHub is the largest ESG and sustainability rating and information platform globally. We aggregate 180M data points from 550+ data sources including 12 leading ESG analyst databases. Our patented algorithm aggregates, normalizes, and weights data to rate 18,000 companies in 132 countries across 136 industries. We track 97% of world market capitalization. We cover 12 subcategories of ratings and rankings across the categories of environment, employees, community and governance. We show underlying data sources that contribute to each subcategory’s ratings. CSRHub metrics are a consensus view (any 2 sources may have about a 30% correlation so we make sense of the disparate data). We tag companies for their involvement in 17 Special Issues. We provide Macro-enabled Excel dashboard templates, customizable dashboards, and an API. Our big data technology enables 85% full coverage of data across our rated companies and robust analyses. We provide historical ratings back to 2008.

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CSRHub - What's Changed After Ten Years of CSR Ratings: Part One

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 7, 2018 10:06:07 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

Part 1 of a 2-part series.

In 2008 CSRHub began measuring performance in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Using ten years of history, we are now starting to answer questions such as: 

  • Has CSR performance improved over time?
  • What area of CSR is improving the most?
  • Is the universe of companies for which ratings are available expanding beyond the large public corporations?
  • How strong is the alignment between CSR performance and company CSR reporting on CSR?

 

Steady Overall Improvement

CSRHub’s ratings incorporate the input of virtually every major source of opinion about how companies treat environment, social, and governance (ESG) issues.  Our patented methodology weights and combines these opinions in a way that makes them comparable both between companies and over time. 

The chart below on Average CSRHub Ratings shows that since 2008, average ratings increased by almost 9 points to a peak in 2016. They fell somewhat over the last two years, but have still ended up by 6 points over ten years. Even from 2008 to 2010, through the worst of the Great Recession, ratings rose. The year-to-year changes are modest and gradual over time, suggesting there have been fundamental changes in business strategy for these companies during this period.

 CSRHub Average Ratings

 

Growth in the universe of rated companies may have diminished this improvement


We only provided sustainability ratings for around 2,000 companies in 2008—we could only find about 50 ESG data sources at that time.  By now, we have gathered data on more than 140,000 companies from 550 sources—and offer ratings on more than 18,000.  The growth in our ratings universe appears to have diminished the overall increase in ratings.

The chart below shows that the average rating for all companies in our universe rose more slowly through 2014 than for the consistent set shown above.  Then, as a flood of new companies began reporting information, the average rating for all companies has slowly dropped.

 Average RatingsSlumped

 

Clear Shifts in Emphasis – the top rated CSRHub category for most years has been “Employees”


Our overall ratings are based on twelve subcategory ratings that in turn feed four different category scores.  We’d written previously about the fact that the emphasis between our four category scores seemed to shift over time.

These shifts appear to be continuing. Governance rose sharply during the 2008-10—probably as a response to the 2008 financial crisis.  Environment ratings surged in between 2012 and 2016, as companies responded to pressure on climate change and water issues.  Employee issues have remained the most highly rated area since 2010 while Community ratings started as the lowest in 2008 and have stayed near the bottom.  The idea that companies are more concerned about their employees than the community they live in is something we believe other ratings groups have not yet noticed.

ECEG Levels

 

Look for part 2 in our series tomorrow, as we continue to explore CSR trends.

Download the full report

 


Bahar_Gidwani-10Bahar Gidwani has built and run large technology-based businesses for many years. Bahar holds a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) and was one of the first people to receive the FSA (Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting) designation from SASB. Bahar worked on Wall Street with Kidder, Peabody, and with McKinsey & Co. He has founded several technology-based companies and is a co-founder of CSRHub, the world’s broadest source of corporate social responsibility information. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy. He plays bridge, races sailboats, and is based in New York City

CSRHub is the largest ESG and sustainability rating and information platform globally. We aggregate 180M data points from 550+ data sources including 12 leading ESG analyst databases. Our patented algorithm aggregates, normalizes, and weights data to rate 18,000 companies in 132 countries across 136 industries. We track 97% of world market capitalization. We cover 12 subcategories of ratings and rankings across the categories of environment, employees, community and governance. We show underlying data sources that contribute to each subcategory’s ratings. CSRHub metrics are a consensus view (any 2 sources may have about a 30% correlation so we make sense of the disparate data). We tag companies for their involvement in 17 Special Issues. We provide Macro-enabled Excel dashboard templates, customizable dashboards, and an API. Our big data technology enables 85% full coverage of data across our rated companies and robust analyses. We provide historical ratings back to 2008.

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A Webinar on Solving the ESG Data Problem - Q&A

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 31, 2018 12:11:54 PM / by Bahar Gidwani

Bloomberg ESGHub webinar 3

CSRHub recently shared fresh insights into how to more effectively use ESG Data.  Bloomberg sponsored the webinar and many of those attending were Bloomberg terminal users.  CSRHub also invited members of its community to hear how to get more out of ESG Data.

We have made the presentation slides used during the webinar available for you to download and use as a reference. 

You may request the webinar replay here.

CSRHub recently launched an application called ESGHub on the Bloomberg terminal (APPS ESGH <GO>).  The app combines CSRHub data with Bloomberg’s ESG Metrics to create a new tool for examining portfolios and other large sets of investment instruments.  The webinar attempted to show why this type of tool is needed and how the tool may help better integrate ESG data into the business processes of those who have a Bloomberg terminal.

Request an Overview of ESGHub

ESGHub Guide 1

Bloomberg’s ESG Metrics is one of the largest sources of company self-reported ESG data.  Bloomberg collects information on 900 indicators from about 10,000 companies.  Other ESG sources use human analysts to generate company ESG ratings.  We showed webinar attendees that company self-reported and analyst-generated ratings tend to be inconsistent and confusing.

Patrick Drum, a senior portolio manager from Saturna Fund, shared his process for selecting instruments for his Sustainable Bond fund.  He reviews a number of specific company-reported items and integrates input from several human analyst rating sources.  His slides showed how hard it was to get consistent company-reported data.  He also illustrated the range of views that human analysts had on the three instruments he wanted to evaluate.

We then showed how CSRHub’s ESG data aggregation normalization process improves the correlation between both self-reported and human analyst data sets.  We discussed the overall distribution of CSRHub’s consensus ESG ratings and showed CSRHub’s big data processing system can bring into focus the data for a particular company.

The ESGHub app (a ten day free trial is available on the Bloomberg terminal at “APPS ESGH <GO>”) brings together Bloomberg and CSRHub data into an easier to understand and use format.  Two thirds of those who attended indicated that they were encouraged now to make more use of ESG data.

The audience asked a number of interesting questions:

Q: Can ESGHub be used to screen green or gender bonds?

A: Yes, if the issuer has shared data on its sustainability programs.  ESGHub combines data from Bloomberg and CSRHub.  It can only screen an issuer if there is data available from both of these sources.

Q: How is CSRHub’s approach to generating a consensus score different from simply averaging a number of ESG ratings?

A: CSRHub scores are a better estimate of consensus than any single or simple average.  The webinar slides gave good examples of the focus and clarity that CSRHub’s Big Data system produces.  There is also information on the CSRHub web site about its proprietary aggregation, mapping, and normalization process.

Q: What strategies for engaging companies about ESG deficiencies could come from using ESGHub?

A: A company that is low on disclosure (has a poor Bloomberg ESG Metrics score) but that is well-regarded for its sustainability performance (has a good CSRHub rating), should disclose more.  One who has the opposite problem needs to improve its internal ESG programs.  ESGHub users should be able to both offer useful advice to companies and illustrate their advice by making ESGHub charts that compare a company to its peers.

Q: Would ESGHub cover companies that other ratings sources don’t?

A: During the webinar, Patrick offered an example of three instruments he considered for his fund.  It was encouraging to see that all three had CSRHub ratings.  Because CSRHub aggregates so many different sources, it should generally have more ratings than any other ESG data source.

 


Bahar_Gidwani2_preferredBahar Gidwani has built and run large technology-based businesses for many years. Bahar holds a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) and was one of the first people to receive the FSA (Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting) designation from SASB. Bahar worked on Wall Street with Kidder, Peabody, and with McKinsey & Co. He has founded several technology-based companies and is a co-founder of CSRHub, the world’s broadest source of corporate social responsibility information. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy. He plays bridge, races sailboats, and is based in New York City.

CSRHub is the largest ESG and sustainability rating and information platform globally. We aggregate 180M data points from 550+ data sources including 12 leading ESG analyst databases. Our patented algorithm aggregates, normalizes, and weights data to rate 18,000 companies in 132 countries across 136 industries. We track 97% of world market capitalization. We cover 12 subcategories of ratings and rankings across the categories of environment, employees, community and governance. We show underlying data sources that contribute to each subcategory’s ratings. CSRHub metrics are a consensus view (any 2 sources may have about a 30% correlation so we make sense of the disparate data). We tag companies for their involvement in 17 Special Issues. We provide Macro-enabled Excel dashboard templates, customizable dashboards, and an API. Our big data technology enables 85% full coverage of data across our rated companies and robust analyses. We provide historical ratings back to 2008.

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Insights Into FB Heron’s ESG Investment Process: A Case Study

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 5, 2018 10:05:41 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

Our friends at FB Heron recently published a summary of how they arrived at their current ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) investment process.  It should be interesting for anyone who is trying to bring ESG factors into their own framework.Heron

Six years ago when Heron declared its intention to invest 100% of its assets for mission, they needed to find new ways to track and visualize the portfolio as it changed over time.

As is true for many foundations, FB Heron invests both directly and via outside managers.  The article starts with a four box screening system that sought to remove “bad” companies and portfolios and focus investment on “good” ones.  We then see that there is a broad distribution of good and bad performance—even after this type of screening. 

The largest segment of their endowment is invested in publicly traded companies, so it was extremely important to find a data partner that had social performance data on that universe. Heron works with a few data providers to do so, including CSRHuboekom, and others.

Heron uses CSRHub’s percentile rankings to help keep comparisons consistent and account for inherent differences across industries. The 0%-100% score can be applied to all of their corporate holdings. 

Heron uses the CSRHub scores of the commonly associated benchmarks (like the S&P 500). The weighted average helps them get a sense of how much of the fund was allocated to higher scoring companies, relative to the benchmark.

Heron has attempted to convert their scoring into a -5 to +5 scale. For now, the percentile scores are scaled so the average enterprise (50th percentile) receives a score of 0. They believe this scale is overly simplistic — however view it as a step in the right direction. Heron has achieved “relative” goodness—a distribution that is markedly superior to that of the market.  But, it continues to struggle with “outliers.”

Please see the FB Heron piece for their thought leadership in forming their evolving portfolio.


Bahar_Gidwani-9Bahar Gidwani has built and run large technology-based businesses for many years. Bahar holds a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) and was one of the first people to receive the FSA (Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting) designation from SASB. Bahar worked on Wall Street with Kidder, Peabody, and with McKinsey & Co. He has founded several technology-based companies and is a co-founder of CSRHub, the world’s broadest source of corporate social responsibility information. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy. He plays bridge, races sailboats, and is based in New York City.

CSRHub provides access to the world’s largest corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information.  It covers over 18,400+ companies from 135 industries in 133 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 550 data sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links millions of rating elements back to their source. Managers, researchers, API partners and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices, and seek ways to improve corporate sustainability performance.

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A Fresh Resource for ESG-Oriented Financial Advisors

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 30, 2018 10:10:38 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

One of the gurus of ESG investing has recently launched a new service for financial advisors (FAs) who want to integrate Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors into their investment process.  He has created a site called “Sustainable Investing” and filled it with content about ESG investing.  Those who subscribe (there is a three month free trial option) get a quarterly newsletter and access to some otherwise hidden research reports.

The site’s author is Henry Shilling, who until recently led Moody’s sustainability 

Sustainable Investing

research efforts. I believe there are several reasons it has been difficult for FAs to bring ESG into their work. (Henry was also one of CSRHub’s beta testers and an early subscriber.)  During his time at Moody’s, Mr. Shilling performed several seminal studies that connected ESG factors with corporate long-term financial performance and risk.  I recall taking so many notes during one of his talks at an S-Networks “Summer in the City CSR Investing Summit” that the fellow next to me told me to stop.  My laptop keyboard clicks were making too much noise and he also wanted to hear Henry speak.

  • The available ESG data sets are too expensive for many FAs to afford.
  • ESG data sets are complex and hard for advisors to navigate and understand. They focus on detail over substance and have “holes” in their data that make comparisons difficult.
  • FA clients have personal biases and views that demand client-specific adjustments. The correct portfolio of one client may not fit the needs of an FA’s other clients.
  • Clients have expected (and FAs have promised) that ESG-oriented portfolios will outperform those that do not take corporate social responsibility considerations into account. ESG funds have more or less performed in line with the market—but most of those currently offered have not been around that long.  We have not seen yet an ESG fund show consistent multi-year outperformance.

Henry has stated publicly that he believes investors and their advisors who care about ESG issues should seek to earn only market rate returns.  I agree with him.  He and I both believe that it is possible to construct a market-performing portfolio of investments that reflects a client’s personal values, if one uses a broad enough initial investment universe.  Henry’s new site is an attempt to provide practical advice and tools for implementing these ideas.


Bahar_Gidwani-9Bahar Gidwani has built and run large technology-based businesses for many years. Bahar holds a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) and was one of the first people to receive the FSA (Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting) designation from SASB. Bahar worked on Wall Street with Kidder, Peabody, and with McKinsey & Co. He has founded several technology-based companies and is a co-founder of CSRHub, the world’s broadest source of corporate social responsibility information. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy. He plays bridge, races sailboats, and is based in New York City.

CSRHub provides access to the world’s largest corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information.  It covers over 18,052+ companies from 135 industries in 133 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 556 data sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links millions of rating elements back to their source. Managers, researchers, API partners and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices, and seek ways to improve corporate sustainability performance.

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