CSRHub Blog Research on ESG metrics and comments on sustainability best practice

CSRHub's Cynthia Figge to Speak at 28th Annual SRI Conference

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 18, 2017 9:40:04 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

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CSRHub Co-Founder and CEO, Cynthia Figge, will be speaking at the 28th Annual SRI Conference. This event will be held on November 1-3rd in San Diego, CA. During this conference, thought leaders, investors and investment professionals from all corners of the Sustainable, Responsible, Impact (SRI) investing universe convene to gain and share knowledge and strategies that align financial performance with positive change. Cynthia will be speaking at a session titled “Know What You Own: Truth Beyond the Façade”.

Breakout Session: Know What You Own: Truth Beyond the Façade:

Critically assessing companies for clients’ portfolios is an important part of financial advising. Learn and understand important tools available for ESG monitoring and company ratings so that your portfolio management reflects clients’ values and financial requirements. Hear examples of effective shareholder activism providing positive impact in the marketplace. Ranking products and services by sustainable criteria and “telling stories” that convey inherent quality and value will find their way to consumers’ hearts, minds and wallets - now more than ever.

Thursday, November 2nd

Speakers:

  • Andy Behar: CEO, As You Sow
  • Paige Chapel: President, CEO, Aeris
  • Cynthia Figge: CEO, CSRHub
  • Bob Helmuth: Senior Vice President, Stakeholder Relations, Pax World Investments

To learn more about the SRI Conference click here.


 cynthia_figge-at-Sustainable-Brands-13.jpgCynthia Figge is a forerunner and thought leader in the corporate sustainability movement who co-founded EKOS International in 1996, one of the first consultancies integrating sustainability and corporate strategy. Cynthia is CEO and Cofounder of CSRHub. Cynthia has worked with major organizations including BNSF, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Dow Jones, and REI to help craft sustainability strategy integrated with business. She was an Officer of LIN Broadcasting/McCaw Cellular leading new services development, and started a new “Greenfield” mill with Weyerhaeuser. She serves as Advisor to media and technology companies, and served as President of the Board of Sustainable Seattle. Cynthia has an MBA from Harvard Business School. Cynthia is based in the Seattle area.

CSRHub provides access to the world’s largest corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information.  It covers over 17,400 companies from 135 industries in 134 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 535 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 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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CSRHub Releases Third e-Book in How to Improve Your CSR Score Series

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 16, 2017 9:49:38 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

CSRHub is pleased to release the third e-Book in the new series, How to Improve Your CSR Score, sponsored by Triple Pundit. “Telling Your Story... Is more disclosure better disclosure?" is now available for download.

Here is a taste of Book 3 of the series:

Do companies who do disclose more, benefit from doing so? CSRHub data shows strong evidence that the top disclosing NASDAQ companies (most of whom are members of NASDAQ’s Global Select Market tier), do elicit better ESG ratings than those with less disclosure. But is that the whole story?

Telling Your Story, Is more disclosure better disclosure?

Learn more and how it impacts ratings and rankings in the new e-Book.

Download e-Book

Telling Your Story... Is more disclosure better disclosure?" explores:Telling Your Story eBook 3.jpg

  • Is Corporate Disclosure Widespread?
  • Disclosure – A Clean Dive or Making a Splash
  • Where Should You Try To Land?
  • Where Can You Get a Good Coach?

As the world’s largest sustainability/ESG business intelligence database, CSRHub is in a unique position to understand corporate social responsibility (CSR) ratings. We have studied each of our 535 data sources’ metrics, and our system automatically identifies which sustainability reporting investments add the most value, pinpoints areas of lagging or leading performance, and produces benchmarks against other companies. In How to Improve Your CSR Score, CSRHub will try to share some of the “secret sauce” its co-founders, Cynthia Figge and Bahar Gidwani, have developed through their combined 30+ years of experience with sustainability metrics.

Download the third e-Book of the series, Telling Your Story, Is more disclosure better disclosure?

Bookmark this page and check back often, as we will list all of the e-Books in the series on this page.

TriplePundit, a Certified B-Corporation, is a global media platform covering the intersection of people, planet and profit. We believe business can be a force for good. With over 10 million unique annual page views, we cover topics ranging from global water and energy challenges to social justice and economic equality, sustainable food to corporate social responsibility, and much more!

TriplePundit’s mission is to further the conversation on the Triple Bottom Line in business.  

CSRHub provides access to the world’s largest corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information.  It covers over 17,400 companies from 135 industries in 134 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 535 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 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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New CSRHub Bulk Extract Tool Simplifies CSR/ESG Analysis

[fa icon="calendar'] Jul 27, 2017 8:00:00 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

The team at CSRHub has just launched the new Bulk Extract Dashboard tool – a powerful Macro-enabled Excel template for quickly comparing large numbers of companies and CSR data.

CSRHub Bulk Dashboard.png

Now professional subscribers can easily customize a CSRHub Dashboard with:

  • their own portfolio or list of companies,
  • 41 data element fields, and
  • time frame for analysis,

without having to know functions or formulas (we have automated this task).

 

Watch the video to see step by step how to use the new Bulk Extract tool. https://youtu.be/BDGHX6q-AjQ

 

 

What are the various uses for the CSRHub Dashboards? Watch our quick overview:

 

 

For more information or to see CSRHub in action, please contact us

Request a Demo

 

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Why Use Big Data to Measure CSR?

[fa icon="calendar'] Jun 28, 2017 7:00:00 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

The following is part 3 of a 3-part series on “Big Data.”

In the past several posts, we have defined Big Data, shown the problems we hope it will address, and described how CSRHub has implemented a Big Data approach to creating corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability ratings.  It is time now to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the “Big Data” approach.


The assumption is that this approach offers many benefits which are not available under traditional analyst-based ratings methods:

 
  • A broad measure of perceived performance. Input from most of the “stakeholders” who evaluate a company’s sustainability performance is captured.  Investor input from the ESG/SRI sources, community input from NGOs and government groups, and input from suppliers, employees, and customers via supply chain tools, employee surveys, and product ratings are included.  While no one can claim to measure true company performance—no external system can do this, it is possible to give an accurate overall multi-stakeholder-based estimate of how a company is perceived.
  • Increased transparency and accountability. The system described automatically reveals to users which sources have reported on each company rated.  Via subscriber-accessible tables and custom reports, users can inspect the details of the data gathered.  This allows companies and their stakeholders to identify the data elements that affect how they are perceived (transparency) and to respond to or correct data that may not be accurate (accountability).
  • Reduced impact from errors and bias. If a source contains a lot of factual errors or an undisclosed bias, this system automatically reduces the weight given to the source.  In this way, the effect on our results of poor quality sources is minimized and corrected for systemic biases.  Because sources generate their information independently, there is good statistical accuracy for our aggregated scores.
  • Regular update and trend tracking. Some sources update their information daily, some quarterly, some only once per year.  However, because there are so many sources, our ratings are updated each month.  This allows the system to show trend charts that connect actions and outcomes with perception.
  • Broad coverage of industries, geographies, and company types. An aggregation system is dependent on its sources for coverage.  We do not yet have full data on small companies or on those in remote geographies or unusual industries.  But, the system allows us to use whatever is available.  We may not be able to rate all aspects of each new company we add to our system, but any ratings we can generate should be consistent across our system.

 

We Don’t Yet Measure Thousands of Smaller Corporate, Not-for-profit, and Government Entities

Percent who could be measured.jpg

  • This approach supports a fourth Big Data “V”—“Veracity.”  There is free access to basic ratings information to everyone.  As a result, any stakeholder can check scores and audit results.
  • Users can adjust ratings to fit their own personal views. There is sufficient data from a wide enough range of sources that we can present alternate sides of many contentious issues.  Users can record a profile that adjusts our ratings to match their own view.  Users can emphasize the priority of environment, employee, community or governance issues, be in favor of nuclear power or against it, or focus on the risks from mercury in fish.  They can then share their personal overall ratings of company sustainability with the other users.

 

The CSRHub approach to ratings has a few drawbacks that are common to Big Data systems:

  • Perception is not reality. The data that companies self-report is focused mostly on its policies and intent.  A company that is good at communicating and “spinning” its story could raise its ratings on the system to a level they do not deserve.  Of course, as more data is secured—especially from bottoms up “crowd” sources—this type of behavior will likely eventually be detected.  A Governance Metric tool called Audit Integrity used to do this type of sleuthing on corporate financial reports.
  • Best practices are not immediately obvious. It is fairly easy to discover that certain activities seem connected with better ratings.  For instance, companies who use the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines or who participate in the UN Global Compact have statistically better ratings than those who do not.  However, it is hard to tell if a program at one company has more effect on its perceived CSR performance than a different program at another company.  The system described can only provide a base of data—the study and explanation of ratings differences must be done by CSR professionals.
  • We cannot correct individual company errors that are found. There are conflicts in the views of disparate sources, on a regular basis.  These discrepancies can’t be “resolved” even when we suspect that some are caused by a source’s data collection or analysis error.  The best that can be done is to report a suspected error to the source and allow it to research and correct the error, in its own way.

 

We believe the benefits of using a Big Data approach to measure corporate social responsibility and sustainability performance far outweigh the drawbacks.  A Big Data system can be extended to include thousands of smaller companies and organizations.  We are expanding our universe of coverage while we keep narrowing down the “error bars” in our ratings. We have discovered several areas that appear driven by sustainability factors.  For instance, we have connected our data to measures of brand strength, risk, communications quality, and cost of credit.

percent correlation with CSRHub ratings graph.jpg


Bahar_Gidwani.jpgBahar Gidwani is CEO and Co-founder of CSRHub.  He has built and run large technology-based businesses for many years. Bahar holds a CFA, worked on Wall Street with Kidder, Peabody, and with McKinsey & Co. Bahar has consulted to a number of major companies and currently serves on the board of several software and Web companies. 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 17,400 companies from 135 industries in 134 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 530 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 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 Big Data Approach to Gathering CSR Data

[fa icon="calendar'] Jun 22, 2017 9:50:14 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

The following is part 2 of a 3-part series on “Big Data.”

We have previously defined “Big Data” and shown how we feel a Big Data system built by CSRHub could help address some problems that exist in collecting corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability data on companies.  We have also further described the problems with the currently dominant method of gathering this data—an analyst-based method.

CSRHub uses input from investor-driven sources (known as “ESG” for Environment, Social, and Governance or “SRI” for Socially Responsible Investment), non-governmental organizations, government organizations, and “crowd sources” to construct a 360 degree view of a company’s sustainability performance.

The illustration below shows the steps in our process.

How CSRHub Generates a Score--2017-06-22.jpg

The steps are:

  1. Convert measurement from each data source into a 0 (low) to 100 (high) scales. This requires understanding how each source evaluates company performance.
  2. We next connect each rating element with one or more of our twelve subcategory ratings. (Some elements may also map partially or exclusively to special issues such as animal testing, fracking, or nuclear power.)
  3. We compare each source’s ratings with those for all other sources. Each company we study gives us more opportunities to compare one source’s ratings with another.  The total number of comparisons possible is very large and growing, exponentially.  We use the results of our comparison to adjust the distribution of scores for each rating source so that they fall into a “beta” distribution that has a central peak in the 50s.
  4. Some sources match up well with all of our other data. Some sources don’t line up.  We add weight to those who match well but continue to “count” those who don’t.

We then repeat steps A to D as many times until we have found a “best fit” for the available data.  Each time we add a new source, we go through an initial mapping, normalization, and weighting process.

 

An Example

It may help explain our data analysis process by using a specific example.  (Note that we are using an example from 2014 for a company that has since been split into two parts.  This avoids any risk of an implied criticism of an existing company.)  Hewlett Packard was a heavily tracked company prior to its split.  We had 154 sources of data for this company that together provided 17,571 individual data elements.  Only 62 of these data sources provided data for our July 1, 2014 rating—the rest of the data sources provided data for previous periods (our data set goes back to 2008).  The 62 current data sources provided 575 different types of rating elements and a total of 610 different ratings values that did not affect/apply to special issues.

After their conversion to our 0 to 100 scale, we mapped the rating elements into our twelve subcategories.  We had 1,403 ratings factors.  We selected our subcategories to allow an even spread of data across them. You can see that we had a reasonably even spread for Hewlett Packard:

CSRHub category.jpg

Before we could present a rating, we needed to check first that we had enough sources and enough “weight” from the sources we had, to generate a good score.  In general, we require at least two sources that have good strength or three or four weaker ones, before we offer a rating.  As you can see, we had plenty of sources to rate a big company such as HP.

Subcategory Chart.jpg

Even after normalization, the curve of ratings for any one subcategory may have a lot of irregularities.  However, we had enough data to provide a good estimate of the midpoint of the available data, for those ratings we collected and adjusted.  Below you can see that some sources had a high opinion of HP’s board while others had a less favorable view.  The result was a blended score that averaged to less than the more uniform Leadership Ethics rating.

 Subcategory Ratings Graph.jpg

The overall effect of our process is to smooth out the ratings input and make them more consistent.  As you can in the illustration below, the final ratings distribution was organized well around a central peak.  The average overall rating of 64 was below the peak, which was around 80.  The original average rating was 61.

CSRHub analysis graph.jpg

By making a few assumptions about how the errors in data are distributed, one can assess the accuracy of ratings.  In a previous post, we showed that CSRHub’s overall rating accurately represents the values that underlie it to within 1.8 points at a 95% confidence interval.  Our error bars have continued to decline and now are less than 1 point at this confidence interval.

In our next post, we will discuss the benefits and drawback of using this complex and data intensive approach to measuring company CSR performance.

Did you miss part 1? See part 1 here.

 


Bahar_Gidwani.jpgBahar Gidwani is CTO and Co-founder of CSRHub.  He has built and run large technology-based businesses for many years. Bahar holds a CFA, worked on Wall Street with Kidder, Peabody, and with McKinsey & Co. Bahar has consulted to a number of major companies and currently serves on the board of several software and Web companies. 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 17,400 companies from 135 industries in 134 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 530 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 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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