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

Transparency is Power

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 13, 2012 9:00:10 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

by Bahar Gidwani

Now CSRHub Has 176 Sources with Transparency International 

One of our missions is to promote “transparency.”  We believe that knowledge is power and that good data will lead to good actions.

So, it was natural that we would be drawn to the work of Transparency International.Transparency International  Through more than 100 national chapters worldwide and an international secretariat in Berlin, Transparency International works with partners in government, business and civil society to put effective measures in place to tackle corruption. Transparency International is politically non-partisan and determines their programmes and activities – no donor has any input into Transparency International’s policies.

We track all 105 of the companies that Transparency International follows.  You can see them all by clicking on this link.  The average overall CSRHub rating for these companies is 55—a healthy step above the 49 average for all companies in our system.  We are sure that Transparency (both the org and the concept) has played a role in this success!

More training partners

We recently added two new training partners to our system.  One 4 All CSR One 4 All CSRand Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) both provide instruction on a wide range of sustainability and CSR-related areas.  Like our other partners Centre for Sustainability and ExcellenceISOS and BrownFlynn, these two firms use CSRHub metrics and tools as both a training tool and in their consulting work.

We are starting to track the course schedules for these groups in a new calendar feature that is on our site here.  If you wish to attend one of these courses, please email us at training@csrhub.com.  We will put you in touch with the right person and you will get a discount for being a member of CSRHub.

Subscribe to CSRHub to enjoy all the benefits. Or, request a demo today!

Bahar Gidwani is a Cofounder and CEO of CSRHub. Formerly, he was the CEO of New York-based Index Stock Imagery, Inc, from 1991 through its sale in 2006. He has built and run large technology-based businesses and has experience building a multi-million visitor Web site. Bahar holds a CFA, was a partner at Kidder, Peabody & Co., and worked at McKinsey & Co. Bahar has consulted to both large companies such as Citibank, GE, and Acxiom and a number of smaller software and Web-based companies. He has an MBA (Baker Scholar) from Harvard Business School and a BS in Astronomy and Physics (magna cum laude) from Amherst College. Bahar races sailboats, plays competitive bridge, and is based in New York City.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on nearly 5,000 companies from 135 industries in 65 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from over 170 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 change the world.

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[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments posted in Bahar Gidwani, CSE, government, ISOS, Uncategorized, sustainability data sources, BrownFlynn, business, civil society, GRI training, One 4 All CSR, Transparency International

My Top Eleven Takeaways from WSJ’s Conference on Business and Sustainability

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 3, 2012 5:25:00 AM / by Cynthia Figge

By Cynthia Figge

A week ago I attended the Wall Street Journal ECO:nomics Conference. This event was brimming with over 200 CEOs, entrepreneurs, industry experts and policymakers, discussing profitability, innovation, and smarter uses of energy. The focus was on the opportunities and risks that are quickly emerging and changing across sectors within the intersection of business and environment. While the event left me with many thought provoking questions and ideas, I wanted to share some of what caught my attention the most here:

1. We have a chance of reaching 50% renewable energy use in the 2060 timeframe, but it will take at least one of five miracles to come true, and about 200 crazy people working really hard at all five.
Bill Gates, Co-chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Chairman, Microsoft

2. We need a rapid change to get to 50% renewable energy in 10 years. The best generalized solution would be to price CO2.
Elon Musk, Chairman and CEO, Tesla Motors and CEO and CTO, SpaceX

3. We must change our source of food – raising cattle the way we do it doesn’t work.
J. Craig Venter, Chairman and President, J. Craig Venter Institute 

4. The present and future role of natural gas is contested, but it could be the best bridge fuel as we move away from petroleum altogether. We could cut our consumption of OPEC oil by 60%.
T. Boone Pickens, Chairman, BP Capital Management and Edward G. Rendell, Former Governor, State of Pennsylvania

5. Most people believe that there is environmental damage involved in fracking, but it’s needed for the future of energy in the US. In the words of California Governor Jerry Brown, fracking is not as bad as environmentalists say, or as good as the companies say.  How do we make the best out of a bad situation? (For more on this issue, watch for the upcoming CSRHub blog on fracking as a new special issue).
Aubrey K. McClendon, Chairman and CEO, Chesapeake Energy

6. By improving ESG (environment, social, and governance) principles, sustainability can mean more cash flow and making more money. This is crucial for incenting and supporting companies with sustainability missions.
David M. Rubenstein, Managing Director, The Carlyle Group

7. Our consumption and daily habits add up, but can add up for good. For example, Robert McDonald says 4.4 billion people on the planet use a P&G product every day. Today 40% of laundry is washed in cold water – P&G has a goal of 70% in cold water. This alone would have an impact on several percentage points of the world’s GHG emissions.
Robert A. McDonald, Chairman, President and CEO, The Procter & Gamble Company

8. Selling green is about being honest. Marketers have less control over the message, and are instead are expected to be transparent and authentic.
Dara O’Rourke, Chief Sustainability Officer, GoodGuide

9. We have the technology to reduce waste and increase recycling, reaching a waste diversion rate close to 100%. But this is an area where we need very effective subsidies and incentives, and a change in culture and behavior.
David P. Steiner, President and CEO, Waste Management

10. The best companies are embedding sustainability into their innovation pipeline. It’s in everything they do and it’s part of their image and brand.
Betty Noonan, Senior Vice President, Panasonic Consumer Marketing Company of North America  

11. China had more patent applications than the US for the first time in history last year. This marks a change in innovation, transparency, and the rule of law. This will go a long way to sparking change for sustainability in China’s economy and workforce.
C. S. Kiang, Chairman, Sustainable Development Technology Foundation

These are just some of the great comments, discussion points, and reflections I heard while in Santa Barbara. There was a clear focus on natural gas at this conference, and how the abundance of a cheaper, cleaner alternative to petroleum has changed the energy market in the US. While natural gas was once thought to be a bridge fuel to a low (or no) carbon economy, that bridge appears to be getting longer.

It is always interesting to see how a change in a key issue around energy, or any topic under the sustainability umbrella, can change how we perceive the challenges and the solutions. This is one of the reasons why in our sustainability reporting and aggregation of data, CSRHub allows users the ability to filter the data they see. A key issue, like natural gas, is the type of specific wedge point that may shift our understanding of sustainability and CSR.

Cynthia Figge, Cofounder and COO of CSRHub is a forerunner and thought leader in the corporate sustainability movement. In 1996 she co-founded EKOS International, one of the first consultancies integrating sustainability and corporate strategy. Cynthia has worked with major organizations including BNSF, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Dow Jones, Noranda 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.

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[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments posted in conference, CSR, Cynthia Figge, Elon Musk, energy, J. Craig Venter, natural gas, Uncategorized, sustainability, Bill Gates, business, Wall Street Journal

When Orcas Are Shareholders

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 24, 2011 9:11:23 AM / by Carol Pierson Holding

Merging Environmentalism & Business Process


By Carol Pierson Holding


This month, the Orca Whale was added to the constituencies fighting for the West Coast’s beloved but increasingly degraded Chinook Salmon population. This after 60 people spent 4 years developing a plan to protect the Chinook in Puget Sound. The compelling goal, “to lead the region toward a legacy of healthy, harvestable salmon and improved water quality for future generations,” brought together citizens and scientists; community, business, and environmental groups; and local elected officials and public agency staff. And, just two months ago, their science-based plan was ratified by 24 local governments.                               

Now the plan must be re-formulated.

It turns out that the Orca, an endangered species itself, requires enormous quantities of Chinook salmon to survive. Far more than previously estimated when the agreements were conceived. NOAA  (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has asked Washington state and Indian tribes that fish in the area to submit a two-year plan for insuring that the endangered whales have enough salmon to sustain themselves.

The backlash has already started. "You can't bring back Orcas just on the backs of fishermen," Joel Kawahara, who fishes commercially in Washington and Alaska, told UPI. "What about improving habitat? What about the effects of the dams on the Columbia River?" The constituents who worked so long and so hard might have to come together again to deal with NOAA’s new requirements.

What strikes me about this issue is that, by injecting a new environmental parameter, the Orcas are adding the pressure needed for a true breakthrough— a new paradigm modeled on environmental processes rather than capitalist structure. Think of the progress we’ve made in less than 25 years to balance the needs of man and nature. First, US business, with the help and prodding of the insurance industry, figured out how to integrate environmental risk into business projections. This was the first successful monetization of the cost of bad behavior toward the environment, but it relied completely on the capitalist model, on boiling everything to down to its economic value.

Then business learned to negotiate with opposing groups, even radical activists like Greenpeace, and still make a profit. To the monetary value of good environmental practices was added the value of relationships, which both diffuse activists and protect or even grow brand loyalty with those customers who are environmentalists themselves.

Now the Orca in Puget Sound add another twist: environmental preservation requires not just a broad cross-sector effort but also an on-going effort. Because the physical world is so interdependent and always changing, an environmental agreement or “fix” is never permanent. Instead business must create structures for a permanent relationship with nature, just as it has with human impediments; structures that insure constant interaction.

So how does the concerned citizen/consumer/investor judge which companies are most prepared to manage the on-going environmental challenge? The attributes measured by CSRHUB are the best way to look at a company’s current behavior. But for those looking to predict the future, it may be most useful to look for evidence of organizational structures for on-going collective action on the environment.

Look for companies that have teams in place for permanent environmental interaction, councils on which senior executives participate led by skilled negotiators. Once common, these councils are disappearing as the economic malaise continues. Use your consumer and investor power to force companies to fund these councils. They establish the importance of relationships — with humans and nature — to succeeding in business. And we save the whales too.

Carol Pierson Holding is a writer and an environmentalist; her articles on CSR can be found on her website.

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[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments posted in Alaska, CSR, fisheries, fishing, NOAA, preservation, Puget Sound, Uncategorized, UPI, Washington, insurance industry, Orca Whale, Orcinus Orca, sustainability, Joel Kawahara, business, Carol Pierson Holding, Chinook Salmon, corporate responsibility, CSRHub, environment, environmental, Greenpeace, Killer Whale

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