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

Financial Company Brand Strength Remains Related to Sustainability Factors

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 3, 2015 10:30:33 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

By Bahar Gidwani

Two years ago, CSRHub and Brand Finance collaborated on a study about the relationship between Brand Finance’s Brand Strength Index (BSI) and CSRHub’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) metrics.  We found a correlation of 28% between these factors for a set of more than 1,000 companies from a wide range of industries.

Since then, CSRHub and Brand Finance have each continued to build and expand their data sets and to study the relationship between them.  Brand Finance has recently published the first section of its 2014-15 data set—information on the brand strength for the world’s top 500 financial companies.  CSRHub got early access to this data and compared it against the latest CSRHub data set.  We once again found a strong correlation between brand and sustainability.

Brand Strength for the top 500 Banking Brands

Each year, Brand Finance reviews the brand strength and value of thousands of companies.  Its rankings shift and change as companies compete to build their brands.  The 500 financial companies on this year’s list include 44 new entries.  Unlike CSRHub, which focuses only on parent companies, Brand Finance generates separate measures for each brand a corporationowns.  As a result, 59 companies have more than one entry on this year’s Brand Finance Banking 500 list.

CSRHub tracks the sustainability performance of more than 13,700 companies in 127 countries.  After removing duplicates, CSRHub has 95% coverage of Brand Finance’s Banking 500 (419 of 441 non duplicate names).

CSRHub tracks twelve different measures of sustainability performance.  Our 2013 analysis used only data for companies where CSRHub had all twelve factors available.  After applying this restriction, the number of companies available for this year’s analysis shrank to 284.

A Good Correlation Despite a Small Sample Size

The correlation between Brand Finance’s BSI and CSRHub’s twelve subcategory measures of sustainability was 25%.  This is close to the 28% correlation we saw in 2013 across a data set that was almost four times larger.

CSRHub and Brand Finance BSI and 12 CSR Factors
The F factor (a measure of the strength of our correlation) was 8.8—indicating there is only a tiny chance that the correlation result was random.  The detailed correlation matrix (below) shows that five of CSRHub’s twelve sustainability factors had a significant relationship with Brand Finance’s BSI.

CSR Brand Value

In our previous study, the strongest relationships between sustainability and brand were for Compensation and Benefits, Diversity and Labor Rights, Training Health and Safety, and Environment Policy and Reporting.  All of these relationships were positive—better performance on these indicators seemed related to higher brand values.

In our current study, Community Development and Philanthropy still shows with a positive coefficient, but Diversity and Labor Rights and Environment Policy and Reporting do not have a similar concurrence.  Training, Health & Safety performance continues to have a strong positive relationship with brand.  Resource Management—a factor that previously had a low correlation—shows up with a strong negative relationship.  This kind of “rotation”—where the strength of relationship between our factors and an output variable change over time—is something we’ve seen in other studies.  We believe it is due to changes in emphasis among stakeholders who are interested in sustainability.  These differences may also be related to industry variations.  Our previous study covered a much broader range of industries than this one.  Finally, the smaller sample size of this study may make it difficult to fully integrate all parts of sustainability into our analysis.

Conclusion and Next Steps

We believe we have shown that the relationship we demonstrated two years ago between sustainability metrics and brand strength continues to persist.  While we cannot claim that there is a causal connection—that sustainability performance directly enhances brand strength the persistence of this relationship over time strengthens our belief that investments in sustainability could help drive positive changes in brand value.

The release of Brand Finance’s Banking 500 results will be followed by further data from Brand Finance on thousands of other top brands.  As we receive these results, we intend to integrate them with what we have discerned about the Banking 500.  We hope to continue improving our understanding of how brand managers and sustainability managers can collaborate to achieve mutually beneficial goals.


Bahar GidwaniBahar 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. Bahar is a member of the SASB Advisory Board.  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, covering over 13,000 companies from 135 industries in 104 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 370 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.

CSRHub is a B Corporation, an Organizational Stakeholder (OS) with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a silver partner with CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), and an Advisory Council Member of Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

 

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What About the Future?

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 18, 2014 9:29:27 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

By Bahar Gidwani

part 3 of a 3-part series

CSRHub recently released many new web features and an important new Excel-based tool, CSRHub Dashboard, to serve our 14,000 members. These changes are in response to our members asking us to give them more control over the data, with the ability to get granular details, access to both ratings and rankings, and a way to bring our data to their desktops via commonly-used tools such as a spreadsheet.

We have been updating the site about twice a year since our launch in late 2010.  We’ve also been adding new sources (now up to 365) and new companies (we have data on more than 10,000 companies in 104 countries).  However, this release took CSRHub to a new level.  We now offer the most comprehensive database of sustainability information in the world, and have become a core tool for a wide range of sustainability research.

As we look ahead over the next two years, we hope to offer our members even more:

  • Expand our coverage to include data on more than 50,000 organizations. Much is known about the sustainability performance of the world’s 1,000 largest companies.  Most of them have permanent, professional sustainability staff who create CSR reports, use the GRI standard, send data to CDP, and encourage their companies to commit to the UN Global Compact.  But, while the world’s top companies contribute a lot to the world’ economy, there are millions of other public companies, private companies, not for profits and government organizations who contribute much more.  To change the corporate and organizational social behavior of these firms, we need to provide them with relevant sustainability data through tools such as CSRHub and our new Dashboard.  We already have some data on about 140,000 smaller organizations.  We hope to add enough new data to bring at least 40,000 of these firms into public view.Big Data
  • Continue to add new sources. We plan to integrate more data from certification groups, supply chain software firms, and government organizations.  These sources collect data on both big companies and on thousands of smaller companies and organizations.  We also plan to ingest “crowd” data based on “semantic analysis” into our system.Crowd Data
  • Integrate our data into more tools and applications. More than 60 organizations have signed up to use the CSRHub Specification for REST Access (CSRA).  The use data from this “API” to improve how consumers purchase products, candidates pick the right job, and sustainability practitioners find the right “best practice” to fix a problem.  Our partners follow many different business models and reside on six of the seven continents (we don’t have partners yet in Antarctica!).  We expect soon to see hundreds of developers using our simple, cheap source of sustainability data.
  • Help our users find sustainability-related tools and products.  We already offer access to more than 100,000 reports from a wide range of sources.  But, we need to do a better job of bringing together tools, reports, and resources and tying them to specific “use cases.”  We plan to launch a “store” that may help with this.  It will contain sections for each use case we serve.  And, it will have a page for each company we track and will show which products are available to do research on that company.

As you can see, we have a lot of work ahead of us.  As a B Corporation, we are dedicated to both making money and to using transparent access to corporate sustainability information to help change corporate social responsibility performance.  We believe we are contributing value to our users—and that our value is growing.  Our new higher subscription price will help us generate more cash that we can use to help achieve our ambitious goals.

Please let us know if you support our goals and agree with our longer-range plan.  Your feedback and support have helped us tremendously.  Thanks.

Part 1
What’s New at CSRHub? A lot!

Part 2
CSRHub Dashboard


Bahar GidwaniBahar 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. Bahar is a member of the SASB Advisory Board.  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, covering on 10,000 companies from 135 industries in 104 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 365 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.

CSRHub is a B Corporation, an Organizational Stakeholder (OS) with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a silver partner with CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), and an Advisory Council Member of Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

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CSRHub Dashboard

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 17, 2014 10:16:57 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

By Bahar Gidwani

part 2 of a 3-part series

In our last post, we described some of the new website and data features we are offering CSRHub’s subscribers for the more than 10,000 companies we track.  However, we also added a new tool to our repertoire—CSRHub Dashboard.  This tool allows our subscribers to download our ratings and data into an Excel spreadsheet template.

To make CSRHub Dashboard possible, we expanded our RESTful application program interface (API) to our database by adding hundreds of new “calls.”  We then added a suite of functions into Excel (via a macro add in) that would allow our subscribers to use our interface to request the data they need.

Here are some examples of how our new Dashboard works:

  • Competitive benchmarking.  It is easy to pull in data on any number of companies (we’ve tested up to 10,000 names).  Then, look at each company’s strengths and weaknesses at a top level or in detail.CSRHub Dashboard Competitor Benchmark
    Then, to understand “best practices,” you can drill down and see what systems companies use to report their performance or compare what each company reported for specific data elements from selected data sources.

CSRHub Dashboard other rating data

  • Company reporting.  Want to know what others are saying about a particular company?  You can quickly see how a company has been rated by any of our 365 sources.CSRHub Dashboard One Company Report

You can also look at how a company’s perceived performance has changed over time.

CSRHub Dashboard charts

  • Supply chain management.  Load in the names of a company’s suppliers.  Ask for the data you want to see.  Press calculate and you should see ratings on most of the major suppliers.  (CSRHub rates both public and private companies and is also rating an increasingly wide array of not for profit and government organizations.)
  • Do it yourself.  With more than 90 different functions available, our subscribers can build their own models and track and understand all types of sustainability ratings and metrics.

In keeping with our support for the broadest possible number of subscribers, we expect to soon introduce a Google Sheets version of the Dashboard.  And, we plan to keep adding more functions (feel free to suggest them!).  All of the new functions we added for our Dashboard users were also put into our RESTful API.  This has made it easier for a wide range of developers to use our data in their applications and tools.

We found that supporting massive extractions of data was beginning to tax our infrastructure.  So, we began migrating our web site from Drupal to RubyOnRails and we introduced a new MongoDB database to speed up access to our data.  We still use Amazon servers—but added more “instances” to our system.  Our average time to deliver a web page has decreased and we seem able to support many Dashboard users at any one time.  We expect to keep moving forward on these technical fronts, as our member base continues to grow.

You’ve now heard “what” new features we’ve added to CSRHub.  In the third post we’ll talk about “why” we are doing these things and where we are heading over the next year or so.


Bahar GidwaniBahar 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. Bahar is a member of the SASB Advisory Board.  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, covering on 10,000 companies from 135 industries in 104 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 365 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.

CSRHub is a B Corporation, an Organizational Stakeholder (OS) with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a silver partner with CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), and an Advisory Council Member of Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

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What’s New at CSRHub? A lot!

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 16, 2014 9:44:38 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

By Bahar Gidwani

Last week, we upgraded the CSRHub web site with many new benefits and features our members have been requesting.  We also officially launched our new CSRHub Dashboard, an Excel-based tool that allows our subscribers to bring millions of data points from our system into our custom templates and into their own internal systems.

CSRHub Dashboard

segment of the CSRHub Dashboard template

This is the fifth major update we’ve made to our site since we first went live in late 2010.  We also update our data monthly.  Our data extends back to December of 2008, so we will soon have seven full years of monthly data available to subscribers.

Curious what we added to the site?  Request a Demo to see what we are offering at our Full Access subscriber level. We will continue to give free basic ratings on more than 10,000 companies and organizations.  We also show non-subscribers some of our sources and some data history.

You can see a sample of what subscribers see on this page.  The new features include:

  • Subscribers can see ratings and rankings.  Over the past three years, many of our users have said that in addition to knowing a company’s absolute sustainability performance (rating), they want to see how a company compares to its peers (rankings).  Now, our subscribers can see these two different ways of comparing company sustainability performance on the same page.
  • Drill down to see what sources contribute to each rating element.  Our users have also been asking us to tell them which elements from each of our 365 sources have something to say about each aspect of the 10,000 companies we track.  Our new company page gives this information.  (Our subscribers can drill down even further by using our CSRHub Dashboard.)
  • Better graphs.  Most people find it easier to understand data when it is presented graphically.  Our new graph allows our subscribers to compare one company’s ratings with those of another company or with the average for an industry or country.  Users can pull category or subcategory ratings into the graph and change the timescale to cover any date range from 2008 to the present.CSRHub interactive graph
  • More clarity about which sources are active.  Until now we’ve shown all of the sources that report on each company we cover.  However, it was hard for our users to figure out if the data from older sources still contributed to our ratings.  We now divide each company’s sources into those that are active (still contribute to ratings) and those that are inactive (not contributing).CSRHub data sources impacting a rating

There are two other important changes in this release.  One is tools-related—we introduced a new Excel template we call CSRHub Dashboard.  The other is technical—major changes in the back end of our site.  We’ll describe the rest of these changes in our next post.


Bahar GidwaniBahar 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. Bahar is a member of the SASB Advisory Board.  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, covering on 10,000 companies from 135 industries in 104 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 365 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.

CSRHub is a B Corporation, an Organizational Stakeholder (OS) with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a silver partner with CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), and an Advisory Council Member of Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

 

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CSRHub Announces Dashboard Launch for Benchmarking

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 15, 2014 9:25:59 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

Sustainability Ratings

CSRHub is pleased to announce it has launched CSRHub Dashboard, an Excel-based tool that allows our subscribers to easily bring millions of data points from our system into our custom templates and into their own internal systems. Fill in company names, a date and we take care of the rest.

We also made the fifth major update to our site since we first went live in late 2010.  Our data extends back to December of 2008, so with our monthly updates we will soon have seven full years of monthly data available to subscribers. The new features include:

  • Subscribers can see ratings and percentile rankings for each of 12 subscategory levels.
  • Drill down to see what sources contribute to each rating element.
  • Interactive graphs allow benchmarking on the fly. Now, compare one company’s ratings with those of another company or with the average for an industry or country.

As recently announced in GreenBiz, our new Excel-based template, CSRHub Dashboard, allows our subscribers to do competitive benchmarking across 10,000 companies in 135 industries in 104 countries. The Dashboard enables ratings and rankings comparisons, and drill down to compare what each company reported for specific data elements from our 365 data sources. And CSRHub Dashboard enables easy assessment of supply chain management.

With more than 90 different functions available, our subscribers can build their own models and track and understand all types of sustainability ratings and metrics.

In keeping with our support for the broadest possible number of subscribers, we expect to soon introduce a Google Sheets version of the Dashboard.  And, we plan to keep adding more functions (feel free to suggest them!).  All of the new functions we added for our Dashboard users were also put into our RESTful API.  This has made it easier for a wide range of developers to use our data in their applications and tools.

We look forward to your feedback.

About CSRHub 

CSRHub provides access to the world’s largest corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information, covering on 10,000 companies from 135 industries in 104 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 365 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.

CSRHub is a B Corporation, an Organizational Stakeholder (OS) with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a silver partner with CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), and an Advisory Council Member of Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

 

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