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

CSRHub shares more Rays of Hope - reach 500 sources

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 17, 2017 11:01:42 AM / by Cynthia Figge

We enter the New Year with some Rays of Hope for the world and at CSRHub.  After nine years of pioneering work, we have just ingested our 500th data source and track the perceived sustainability performance of almost 17,000 companies worldwide. We now aggregate 13 expert ESG investor research databases, and a vast array of NGO and rich data sources providing a strong signal on how companies are perceived by financial analysts and other stakeholders.

During 2017, we plan to continue expanding both the range of sources we ingest500 sources v2.jpg (we have >100 new sources in our pipeline) and the number of companies we track (we have data on another 140,000 companies).

We are adding 3 million data elements per month to our 100 million analyzed data elements. If you haven’t visited our new company page new design lately, please see the Wal-mart company page sample or request a demo to get a glimpse of how big data and benchmark tools can increase your CSR / ESG business intelligence. 

 See Wal-Mart Sample Page       Request a Demo

This year we will continue working on our goal to make a public, affordable, and standardized measure of company ESG performance that empowers our users to improve corporate social performance. 

Thank you for the work you do and for being members of our community.

Best regards,

Cynthia Figge

Co-founder and COO, CSRHub

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Why Use Big Data to Measure CSR?

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 6, 2014 10:31:02 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

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

By Bahar Gidwani

arrows going upIn 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

 Tpe of Organization part 3

  • 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.

This 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 GovernanceMetric tool called Audit Integrity does 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 hope to expand our universe of coverage while we keep narrowing down the “error bars” in our ratings and to see if we can discover some of the drivers that change them.  For instance, as we build up a tail of detailed historic data, we may be able to prove that certain actions lead to ratings changes and others do not.  As more data become available the approach outlined above can be applied to virtually any company regardless of size and location.

See part 1, Using “Big Data” to Rate Corporate Social Responsibility: One Company’s Approach.

See part 2, A Big Data Approach to Gathering CSR Data.


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 corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 9,200+ companies from 135 industries in 106 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 348 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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CSRHub Simplifies Sustainability Benchmarking: An Interview with CSRHub Co-founder Cynthia Figge

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 4, 2014 9:35:51 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

As previously seen in the WiznessBlog.

benchmarking

Wizness and CSRHub have joined forces to simplify sustainability benchmarking against Cynthia Figge, Co-founder and COO of CSRHubcompetitors. CSRHub co-founder Cynthia Figge answered questions about her company and how the new benchmarking product will benefit users.

Q: What is CSRHub’s goal and purpose?

A:  CSRHub aggregates information about corporate social performance into one place so companies and individuals can track sustainability worldwide. It’s the first easy way to discover how companies perform and compare on sustainability and CSR issues.

 

Q: What was the genesis of CSRHub?

A: My partner Bahar Gidwani and I founded CSRHub in 2007 to solve the CSR data problem. Back then, there were many often conflicting data sources – sound familiar? We were the first company to recognize that the growing body of CSR information would soon require a Big Data solution. We figured out how to combine the data into a single rating that incorporates an ever-growing number of sources. We started with the premier environment, social, governance, the ESG firms, also known as socially responsible investment or SRI — we aggregate nine now — and added data from 300 sources so far and counting, NGOs plus government agencies, social networking groups, indexes and publishers. Our proprietary tools combine more than 60 million pieces of data on sustainability and CSR performance into a consistent set of ratings.

Q: Who are CSRHub major ESG/SRI data sources?

A: Our sources include premier ESG organizations ASSET4 (Thomson Reuters), CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), EIRIS, GovernanceMetrics International, IW Financial, MSCI (ESG Intangible Value Assessment and ESG Impact Monitor), RepRisk, Trucost and Vigeo.

Q: What is the CSRHub schema?

A: Our data schema lays it out in detail, but generally our ratings are based on four categories: Environment, Employees, Community, and Governance. Each category has three subcategories. For example, within the Environment category there are Environmental Policy and Reporting, Energy and Climate Change, Resource Management. For Employees, Diversity and Labor Rights, Compensation and Benefits, Training Health and Safety, and so on.

Q: How are people using CSRHub ratings?

A: The market uses us for six applications:

First, for benchmarking. Our ratings and analysis tool covers 9,296 companies across 135 industries to track competitors over time.

A lot of our users analyze performance by stakeholder for CSR and Sustainability Reports. We offer a, single powerful interface to over 348 sources of information.

Professors and students conduct academic research and projects. Our tool analyzes six years of data and over 60 million data points, and is currently used in hundreds of universities globally.

Sustainability is increasingly important to company brand. Companies use us to build authentic brand values and increase customer loyalty.

CSRHub is used to build a world-class sustainable supply chain. Our APIs can map into a company’s supply chain network across 106 countries.

Finally, we find that sustainability performance is increasingly a factor in economic decisions. People search for places to work, brands to buy, and partners to support based on their values.

Q: How does CSRHub enable comparisons between companies? Can we really integrate apples and oranges?

A: The CSRHub schema maps data elements from all these data sources into the twelve subcategories, then aggregates and normalizes the data for comparability. The schema isn’t unique, but the aggregation and normalizing absolutely is. Bahar and I together had the perfect skillset to attack this challenge. We met at Harvard Business School. I went on to cofound EKOS International, one of the first consultancies to integrate sustainability and corporate strategy, way back in 1996 if you can believe it. Bahar has a CFA and built and ran Web-based and technology-based businesses on Wall Street with Kidder, Peabody and for McKinsey.

Q: Why is knowing my CSRHub rating and ranking in my industry important?

A: Benchmarking is key to competing successfully and creating value. Knowing your CSRHub rating and ranking enables your company to gain an independent perspective about how well you perform compared to other companies, identify specific areas for improvement, and monitor company CSR performance over time. Integrating CSRHub benchmarking across divisions enables a company to prioritize improvements and provide greater transparency of progress.

Q: How will CSRHub and Wizness work together?

A: CSRHub and Wizness are collaborating to create a Benchmark Template Report available on the Wizness Publisher website. Our reports will be streamlined, digital, social and mobile solutions for key stakeholders interested in sustainability data and progress.

Q: When will this benchmarking tool be available?

A: An early preview of the report is available now in PDF form at the following address: https://publisher.wizness.com/csrhub

Photo courtesy of Wizness.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 9,200+ companies from 135 industries in 106 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 348 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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CSRHub CEO Bahar Gidwani Speaking at 2nd Annual CSR Investing Summit

[fa icon="calendar'] Jul 15, 2014 9:00:01 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

summer in the city

CSRHub’s co-founder, Bahar Gidwani, has been invited to speak in New York at the Summer in the City 2nd Annual CSR Investing Summit. This all-day conference offers participants the opportunity to discuss experiences and viewpoints on how to define, manage, and measure responsible investing.  The conference will include expert practitioners from the following groups: plan sponsors, endowments, consultants, academics, non-governmental organizations, the “sell side,” and media.  Attire is informal and networking is encouraged.

Bahar will be leading a presentation on Measuring Social and Governance Performance for Nonpublic and Emerging Market Companies at 2pm. Bahar will be joined by Christina Alfonso of Madeira Global and Rekha Unnithan of TIAA-CREF. Over the past few years, Bahar has been gathering data on nonpublic and emerging company social performance while Christina has been leading and managing investments in these firms. Rekha is a key player in the sustainability reporting process of one of the world’s largest NGOs. Their discussion should give a broad overview of how this sector has behaved in the past and what types of measurement and reporting we may expect to see, in the future.

CSRHub members can receive a more than 50% discount of $200 on the $395 price for the event by entering the following code when registering for the summit: CSRCOOP. Learn more and register here.

Summer in the City 2nd Annual CSR Investing Summit
hosted by S-Network Global Indexes, Inc.
Thomson Reuters Building (3 Times Square-30th floor)
July 22, 2014


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 corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 8,900+ companies from 135 industries in 102 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 325 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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Join Cynthia Figge at the Sustainable Business Oriented CSR Awards & Summit 2014 Event

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 11, 2014 10:22:39 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

Sustainable Business-Oriented CSR Summit 2014Our co-founder Cynthia Figge has been invited to speak in Shanghai at the 2nd Annual Sustainable Business Oriented CSR Awards & Summit 2014 (SBC 2014). Hundreds of top CSR professionals from Asia (and the rest of the world) will convene in China on April 21-24, 2014, and hear Cynthia’s take on how “big data” will affect sustainability reporting. Other speakers will address issues of shared values, sustainable construction, and interesting ideas such as artificial islands. Learn more at http://dconnector.wix.com/csrsummit2014. To enjoy a special 15% registration discount, please write to support@csrhub.com.

Conference: 21-22 April, 2014
Post-event Workshop: 23-24 April, 2014
Shanghai, China

This event will help you get a deeper understanding of Social Media and Big Data Strategies for CSR projects.

Key Themes of the Conference:

  • Cause-related marketing case study: new challenges, new tools, most advanced international case study
  • Identify the key global and local CSR challenges and emerging trends: key issues, hot topics, opportunities, risks to your future business
  • How to effectively champion CSR within your organization? Transform the culture, strengthen competitiveness and meet your business needs
  • What constitutes CSR best practice and how is it applicable to your organization?
  • Global solutions for local problems: efficient tools, methods, techniques to improve CSR performance to boost sustainable business
  • Partnership and project identification: key techniques to choose the NPO partner and project that fits with business and brand image.

Benefits of Attending:
From this two-day conference and two-day workshop you will be able to:

  • Gain in-depth analysis on compliance risks, financial rewards and the leadership strategies of CSR which will make an impact on your corporate’s bottom line
  • Fresh insight on latest development and future trends of CSR in China and how regulators, corporate leaders and international intellectuals evaluate CSR’s value to business, society and environment and how they respond to the changing environment
  • Cause-related marketing: How can we help government, customers and other critical audiences understand the full value of the contributions we make and leverage CSR benefits by successful marketing campaign
  • Learn the latest international reporting principles and know what the readers want to see: deliver excellent reports by using effective framework and guidelines
  • Best practices in integrating CSR system into business strategy to deliver sustainable products, make consumer-driven branding strategy, enhance corporate soft power in the new age of transparency
  • Skills and techniques to successfully communicate, implement and evaluate your company’s CSR program
  • Find out tools, solutions, practical advices and useful connections to help you dealing with the challenges and difficulties in the process of implementing CSR in 2014 and beyond
  • Network with key regulators, powerful NGO representatives and potential investors to design higher value CSR initiatives and support future projects

You will also be able to meet:
CEO, CRO, CMO, CSR Managers/ Directors/ CFO/ Managers who are responsible for:
• Corporate Social Responsibility
• Corporate Communications
• Public Relations/ Branding/ Marketing
• Sustainable Development/ Environmental Affairs
• Corporate Governance
• Community and Investor Relations
• Strategic Planning
• Human Resources/ Risk & Compliance
• Supply Chains


Cynthia FiggeCynthia Figge is a forerunner and thought leader in the corporate sustainability movement. She is COO and Cofounder of CSRHub, the world’s largest database that aggregates and organizes data and knowledge on the social, environmental, and governance performance of 8,900 companies to provide sustainability ratings to the marketplace. In 1996 she co-founded EKOS International, one of the first consultancies integrating sustainability and corporate strategy. Prior to founding EKOS, she was an officer of LIN Broadcasting / McCaw Cellular, and led new businesses and services with Weyerhaeuser, New York Daily News; and with New Ventures. Cynthia is Board Director of the Compassionate Action Network International. Cynthia received her bachelor's degree in Economics and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. She lives in the Seattle area.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 8,900 companies from 135 industries in 103 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 300+ 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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