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

GRI Reporting’s Impact on ESG Ratings

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 13, 2018 11:18:19 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

Two years ago, the sustainability business community elected me to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Stakeholder Council (SC).  Thank you, it has been an honor to represent you.  I recently traveled to Amsterdam to attend the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Council.  I thought our readers might like to hear some of what we discussed and learned.

One caveat.  There were parts of our discussion that are (and should be) confidential.  The SC is tasked with advising GRI’s Board on its strategy.  We also select/elect some of GRI’s Board members.  Furthermore, these represent my individual views as a GRI SC member, but I am not an official spokesperson and don’t speak on behalf of the Stakeholder Council or of the GRI. These remarks have been reviewed by SC’s GRI liaison to be sure I’m not revealing information I shouldn’t.

GRI’s Value

Virtually everyone who is involved in sustainability reporting is aware of GRI’s contribution to our field.  It is the best known and the most respected approach to reporting—and has been for many years.  We have shown that companies who use the GRI method for organizing their reporting receive better sustainability ratings.  The table below shows a recent analysis across 4,000 companies.

Ave CSRHub Ratings vs No of GRI Reports

As you can see, companies that report using the GRI approach have consistently higher ratings on CSRHub than those who don’t.  Since CSRHub’s scores include input from 565 different rating sources, there is a strong correlation between using GRI’s methods and how positively a company is seen across a wide range of different rating methodologies.  Note that reporting only every other year is associated with less improvement.  One of the things we discussed at the SC meeting was that some companies seemed to be skipping years in their reports.  Our ratings data indicates that those who report every year seem to have a ratings advantage over those who don’t.

Harmonization

One of GRI’s focus areas has been the harmonization of different ratings systems.  This is in response to a perceived fractured reporting landscape and concerns from stakeholders (especially in the investment community) for simplicity and comparability in ratings.  The chart below shows an example of the disconnect those using ratings must cope with.

Diff ESG Rating Systems

The six companies above are all large and well-studied.  The consensus view of (as measured by CSRHub) is that their sustainability performance is pretty similar.  However, the four ESG rating systems (and credit score) that we show above show a lot of variation.  Even highly experienced users of these data sets are often at a loss to explain these differences.

One of GRI’s responses to these concerns has been to participate in the Corporate Reporting Dialog.  “The Dialog,” as it is known, is supported by seven ratings and standards-setting groups, including CDP, SASB, and Integrated Reporting.  GRI would like to become the “IFRS of ESG.”  Take a look at the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) site, if you haven’t before (they are also a supporter of the Dialog) and you will see where GRI is heading.

What’s Next?

GRI is working on a number of new Standards. These will be released through the Global Sustainability Standard Board (GSSB) process.  There is a hope that more Standards can be released over the next year, than over the past.  GRI has built up its staff in the area and they are clear on their priorities.

Expect a continuation of the working sessions in 2019 for GRI Community members (formerly known as the GRI GOLD community).  There will be several meetings on corporate reporting, on integrating the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into reporting, and on how best to organize digital reporting.

Please feel free to send me comments, suggestions, and advice that may help GRI continue to be successful.  I have one more year in my current term and would like to serve you, my constituents, well.

  


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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Sustainability at Our Alma Mater, Harvard Business School

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 21, 2017 9:46:22 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

Two of CSRHub’s founders went to Harvard Business School.  (Cynthia and I were in the same study group!)  So we remain interested in the affairs of our alma mater—especially as they relate to sustainability.

Colleges and Universities are pretty interesting “entities” from a sustainability perspective.  Many of them are huge enterprises—as big or bigger than most major corporations.  For instance, Harvard University employs about 16,000 faculty and staff (more staff than the 11,000+ students they serve).  The University of Texas at Austin has about the same number of staff, 15,000, watching over its 50,000 students.  In contrast, US Steel employs only 21,000 people—not too different!

We have 11 sources of information and 158 elements of data available on Harvard University, but can only rate it on 8 of our twelve measures of sustainability.  This is a common situation for Colleges and Universities (we have 47 sources for US Steel).

Harvard University CSR Ranking.jpg

We currently offer full ratings on only 9 of the 88 education entities that we cover in CSRHub.  This situation should improve as we gather more crowd and government sources.  (For instance, the US Department of Education provides an interesting Scorecard that has more than 100 data items per college.  (E.g., did you know that Harvard University graduates earn an average of $87,200 ten years after graduation, compared to $52,800 for UT grads?)

Colleges and universities face many of the same sustainability-related issues that businesses do.  For instance, Harvard has tussled with its host communities (with both Cambridge and Allston), as it has expanded its facilities and grown its “footprint.”  The University recently went through a strike with its food workers, narrowly avoided a strike with its janitors, and faces a unionization effort among its graduate student workers.  It has also made public commitments to reduce its carbon footprint, waste production, etc.

While schools like Harvard may have a “sustainability report,” few educational institutions have generated a GRI report (10 in the past two years out of the 88 entities in this group) and none have done a CDP report.  This lack of formal reporting, coupled with public/private governance structures that diffuse responsibility, make it hard to hold educational institutions to the same standard of behavior that we do for business entities.  However, the core buyer for education is young and more socially aware than the average consumer of most business products.  We expect to see students (and faculty) increase pressure on universities and colleges to both disclose more of their social behavior and to press schools to improve their social performance.

 

Search a company on CSRHub and see their sustainability performance.

 Search CSRHub Ratings & Rankings


Bahar Gidwani

Bahar 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 16,800 companies from 135 industries in 133 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 500 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's Bahar Gidwani elected member of Global Reporting Initiative Stakeholder Council

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 9, 2016 8:00:00 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

CSRHub is pleased to announce that our CEO and Cofounder, Bahar Gidwani, has beenGlobal Reporting Initiative's Stakeholder Council elected as a member of the Global Reporting Initiative’s Stakeholder Council. His three- year term will start at the beginning of 2017.

The Stakeholder Council takes a crucial role within GRI’s governance structure, alongside the GRI Board of Directors. The Stakeholder Council is GRI’s formal multi-stakeholder advisory body, which debates and deliberates key strategic and policy issues with a view towards providing advice to the GRI Board of Directors. The Stakeholder Council comprises a balance of stakeholder and geographic constituencies.

 


 

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. 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 16,500 companies from 135 industries in 133 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 491 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 and Bloomberg - part 2

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 16, 2015 10:02:32 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

By Bahar Gidwani

Part 2 of a 2-part series

The first part of this post described the reasons iCompli and CSRHub decided to create the new ESG Metrics Brief report.  We thought it might be helpful to provide a concrete example of the kinds of information—and opportunities for action—that these reports create.

At number 8 on the 2014 Fortune list, Ford is a well-studied, multinational with a long history of interest in sustainability.  Ford has reported to the GRI since 2007, to CDP since 2006, and has won many awards and recognitions.  CSRHub has 139 different sources of information on Ford and 22,501 different ratings points.  Ford’s overall CSRHub rating of 60 puts it at the 71% percentile among the 118 motor vehicle manufacturers that CSRHub tracks.

The overview

The first chart in Ford’s ESG Metrics Brief provides a visual representation of this relative performance:

Ford CSRHub overall ratings

While overall performance is well above average, it is clear that of the four major categories of sustainability performance that CSRHub tracks, Ford is strongest in “employees” and weakest in “governance.”

The ESG Metrics Brief has access to CSRHub’s eight years of ratings history and a similar range of history from Bloomberg.  This chart shows how Ford’s CSRHub rating has changed over this time period.

ESG Metrics Brief CSRHub Rating

The ESG Metrics Brief next brings in other ESG sources from Bloomberg’s system.  Here is the relative performance for Ford as seen by ISS and by CDP.

ISS Governance QuickScore

CDP Performance Score

Drilling down

After a user has reviewed the overall situation for a company, he or she can “drill down” into each of the four main categories that CSRHub covers.  For instance, here is the change over time for Ford’s governance rating, compared to those of its peers.

CSRHub Governance Rating

The above chart uses CSRHub ratings.  Other sources and metrics drawn from Bloomberg help further explain Ford’s loss of competitive advantage compared to its peers in this area.  One factor may be a reduction in the amount and quality of Ford’s disclosures.

Bloomberg Gov Disc Score

A second factor could be the perception that Ford’s CEO compensation is out of line with that of its peers.

CEO compensation

Bloomberg tracks a wide array of metrics and policies that give users of the ESG Metrics Brief even more insight into this part of Ford’s sustainability behavior.

ESG Metrics Brief KPIs

CSRHub comparators

The bottom line

We believe that an ESG Metrics Brief will be a good starting point for those who want to understand one company’s sustainability performance.

  • The report is easy to obtain.  It takes three business days or less to generate each report.
  • The report is inexpensive.  Each report costs only $495—much less than the time and energy required for most researchers to generate something comparable, and far less than the cost to license the datasets.
  • The report is broad and comprehensive.  You get data on more than 120 indicators across all areas of sustainability.  Each report normally compares against between 10 and 30 peers.
  • The report helps inform the stakeholders in a sustainability strategy process.  You can share the report internally and help prove your case for new programs, further investments, and shifts in strategy.

We have more data than we can ever fit into any single report!  We look forward to getting feedback from our users about the ESG Metrics Brief and continuing to fine-tune it to meet their needs.

See more now, including a full sample, at  http://www.csrhub.com/content/icompli-csrhub-esg-metrics-brief/.

 


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. 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 15,000 companies from 135 industries in 132 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 400 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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Bloomberg ESG and CSRHub Benchmark - part 1

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 15, 2015 10:00:21 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

By Bahar Gidwani

Part 1 of a 2-part series

Sustainability professionals spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and months of time developing and managing their sustainability programs.  Most dread the almost inevitable question from their manager or their manager’s manager—”How are we performing relative to our peers?  Where are we doing well and where do we need to improve?”  The iCompli CSRHub ESG Metrics Brief is designed to make it easy to answer these questions in a fact-based and authoritative way.

Why has it been hard to get answers?

Sustainability managers know their own programs—and understand the data they generate and report.  However, hundreds of outside sources each form their own opinions on a company’s sustainability performance.  They use different criteria and come to different conclusions—and both their analysis methods and their viewpoints are not always readily available.

For instance, is Wal-Mart more socially responsible than Target?  The barriers to answering this question include:

  • Too much information – CSRHub contains 131 sources of sustainability information for Wal-Mart and 118 sources for Target.
  • Gaps in the data - 85 of the above data sources rate both company, but many sources are unique to only one of the two companies.
  • Broad range of comparable companies – CSRHub tracks 274 retail companies worldwide.  To fairly compare Wal-Mart and Target, one needs to put them into context against all of these other competitors.

 

Our new solution required combining two components

CSRHub’s database system maps, merges, and normalizes sustainability ratings from 425 sources.  It includes information from Wall Street firms such as Thomson, MSCI, EIRIS, and Trucost; data from non-governmental organizations such as CDP, GRI, Transparency.org and the UN Global Compact, and information from government databases, publications, and various types of certification and crowd sources.  By combining almost 80 million pieces of data, CSRHub can generate objective scores of the perceived sustainability performance for more than 15,000 companies in 132 countries.

CSRHub ratings process

The end result shows that Target is generally more sustainable than Wal-Mart—although Wal-Mart is seen has having better performance on environmental issues.

CSR Ratings for Target vs Walmart

This perception perspective helps identify where a particular company is weak or strong.  But, most corporate managers need to also see comparable sets of facts and figures, before they can invest in new projects or change their strategy.  The new ESG Metrics Brief combines CSRHub’s insights with the hard facts contained in Bloomberg’s well-respected ESG (Environment Social Governance) Database.

Bloomberg tracks data on more than 30,000 publicly-traded companies, from around the world.  Its data set includes information not only hundreds of data items its own staff gathers from public sources and company filings but also data from other major ESG sources such as Sustainalytics and ISS.  The result is a set of comprehensive reports on 6,969 companies in 77 countries.

ESG regions

Look for part 2 of this series to see a concrete example of the kinds of information—and opportunities for action—that the new ESG Metrics Brief's create.

To see more now, including a full sample, go to www.csrhub.com/content/icompli-csrhub-esg-metrics-brief/.


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. 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 15,000 companies from 135 industries in 132 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 400 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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