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

Who Uses CSRHub?

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 21, 2013 8:55:36 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

By Bahar Gidwani

We are often asked “Who uses CSRHub?”  In some cases, the question has been prompted by curiosity.  In other cases, a prospective user may want the reassurance that “everyone else” is using our sustainability metrics and decision-making tools.

We recently signed up our 7,000th user.  While the largest group came from the US, more than half of our visitors come from outside the US.  We don’t force our users to tell us a lot of details about themselves.  To do so would violate the general trend for web sites to protect and preserve the privacy of their users.  However, we do know that more than 400 major corporations use CSRHub, along with all of the major consulting and accounting firms who are involved in sustainability.

who uses csr

As the chart above shows, about 27% of our users work in large corporations.  Another 12% work in the accounting, consulting, and engineering firms, lawyers, ad agencies, and public relations professionals who serve large corporations.  Another 44% of our users did not announce an affiliation with a company.  We believe that many of these users are businesspeople who join our site because they have a personal interest in sustainability.  Others within this group are activists and individuals who need to research corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues.

About 8% of our users work for non-governmental or government organizations.  Last, but not least, 9% of our users are students and academics.  A number of major universities have begun integrating CSRHub’s tools and data into their curriculum.  We provide their students the information they need to understand how sustainability is viewed in the “real world.”

Some of our users have volunteered data on their “demographics.”  For instance, 18% of our US users report themselves to be Democrats, 5% are Republicans, 42% call themselves “Liberal” and 34% are Independents.  53% of our users are men, 45% are women and 2% describe themselves as transgender.  We have partnered with a number of “social networks” in our area and hope they will help us learn more about our users and their interests.


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 over 6,700 companies from 135 industries in 82 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 200 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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Expanding Sustainability Data: A Billionaire’s Club?

[fa icon="calendar'] May 31, 2011 8:11:16 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

This post is the 2nd in the 3-part series, Expanding Sustainability Data. 

 

By Bahar Gidwani

 

The biggest and best sources for sustainability data at present are the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) firms.  Their dedicated researchers have taken a variety of approaches to gathering and distributing company sustainability data.  We have had the privilege of seeing data so far from ten of these firms—more than a million pieces of information.

 

It was hard to match up these ten data sets.  One problem is that each firm has its own approach to recording, displaying, and abbreviating the names of the companies they follow.  As a result, it is necessary to store name variants for each SRI firm and research whether Company A from one firm is really the same as Company B at another firm, etc.  A more substantive problem is that each firm uses a different “schema” for organizing its data and different definitions for the behavior it measures.  One source says that a company’s board is diverse, another may say that 10% of the company’s directors are women, and the third source may say that the company has a board diversity policy.  We had to correlate and harmonize all of these different measures.

 

We were able to do this work for all ten of the sources we studied.  We found that as a group they cover only 7,545 of the world’s companies.  Further, of this list, 43% (more than 3,000 companies) are studied by only one or two of the firms.  To produce a good rating, we need data from several sources.

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On the other hand, 39% of the companies tracked by SRI firms get 6 or more ratings from them.  This is more data than we really need to have, to measure how these companies perform.

 

Why is there a focus on a relatively small number of companies?  SRI research firms primarily serve socially responsible investors and investment firms.  These investors are primarily interested in larger companies—those that have enough liquid stock available to be suitable investments under the rules of most pension plan and regulatory guidelines.  As a result, we estimate that fewer than 20% of the companies studied by SRI firms have less than $1 billion in revenue.

 

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Further, social investors generally prefer to invest in companies that are traded on major stock exchanges. Most of these companies are based in developed economies. The result is that only about 10% of SRI research is on companies in less developed and emerging economies.

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Of course, SRI research firms and their investment clients are not the only ones that have this bias.  We studied the 10,000+ examples we could find where not-for-profit groups, publications, and other activist groups gave awards or recognition to companies.  Of these, more than 50% went to the same few percent of the world’s public companies that get SRI community attention.

 

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If we want to have universal coverage of the sustainability performance of even the world’s 30,000 publicly traded companies, we need to look beyond the base provided by the existing rating groups and look for new sources.  Our next post will look at some of these opportunities.

 


 

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.

 

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Involving the Silent Majority

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 2, 2011 12:37:08 PM / by Bahar Gidwani

By Bahar Gidwani


Richard Nixon coined the term “The Silent Majority,” in a speech he made in 1969.  He felt that there was a vast group of citizens who were sitting quietly between vocal groups on the political left and right.  He claimed he was speaking for this group.

 

Since he defined the concept, many others have tried to find and represent the needs of this group.  During a recent panel discussion on sustainability, I heard the term applied to those consumers who are neither strongly in favor of including social issues in their lifestyle choices nor strongly opposed to sustainability and corporate social responsibility issues.

 

Is there a silent majority that doesn’t have a strong view on sustainability?  Does a vast group of consumers and related business and social enterprises have no concern about corporate governance, environmental problems, labor issues, or how their communities are treated?  Do these people fail to speak because they don’t care, don’t know who to communicate with, or don’t know what to say?  If this group exists, how do we engage them in the discussion we want to have about social issues?

 

While I can’t provide facts to support answers to these questions, I do have an opinion. It seems to me that almost everyone is passionate about at least one social issue.  Sometimes it is a national or international discussion such as drug use, abortion, poverty, or religious freedom.  Sometimes it is a local issue—school quality, pot holes in roads, or a mayoral election.  But I believe that a desire to improve our lives and our society is deeply engrained in human nature—and something that almost everyone shares.

 

If this is the case, the question becomes how to fully integrate issues of sustainability into international and local issues. How can we make sustainability relevant to our nation’s PTA and teacher’s union members? How can we engage gun-owners, veterans, civic engineers and social activists, so that they feel sustainability will benefit their own pet social issues? CSRHUB is working to integrate sustainability and business, but more work is needed to reach main street, blue collar citizens without ties to publicly traded companies. As always, suggestions are welcome.

 

 


 

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.

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