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

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.

 

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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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Tears Don’t Mend Broken China

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 12, 2017 11:32:16 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

renewal.jpgI’ve always been clumsy.  There were many broken dishes and glasses in my childhood.  My Mom was always kind about it.  She’d say, “Tears don’t mend broken China.”  She had other similar phrases I remember (e.g., “If you get a load of lemons, it is time to make lemonade!”), but the lesson was always Midwestern positivism.  Don’t sit around moaning about what can’t be fixed—keep moving forward and don’t let your own failures hold you back.

Our recent election broke dishes for those of us in sustainability.  Many of my friends in the field and a number of our clients have asked if US corporate sustainability programs will be put on hold for the next four years.

I’m not as good as my mother was, at mending dishes (or comforting someone who is crying!).  But I do see some reasons for hope:

  • Well-run corporations care about profit, reputation, and mission. If their sustainability programs generate a profit, reduce risk, or help them accomplish their longer-range goals, they should continue to pursue them.
  • Young folks soon take over. We get requests daily from students around the world who need data for a sustainability study or project.  For every student who majors in CSR there are ten other young people who care passionately about the world’s future.  Unless something dramatically changes how young people view the future, we will continue seeing a generation-driven rise in interest in sustainability.
  • US companies trade with the rest of the world—and the rest of the world won’t backtrack on sustainability. If a US company wants to be successful in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, etc. it must adhere to a high standard of ethics, respect indigenous peoples, avoid polluting local water supplies, combat climate change, etc.
  • US companies have the same stakeholders they did on November 7. Managers, employees, communities, suppliers, customers, and investors will continue to remind companies about the risks that companies will face if they do not behave responsibly. It will remain important to have a “social license to operate.”
  • Momentum matters. Corporations are big ships that turn slowly.  They have put money and time into corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.  They won’t shift these resources into other things, without good reason and a lengthy analysis process.

 

What types of changes may occur?  Don’t expect stringent new guidelines from US regulators (e.g., the SEC, the EPA, OSHA, etc.).  Look for more boycotts and “buycotts.”  (Several groups are boycotting Trump-related brands and there seems to be a countervailing push to punish firms that won’t advertise on Breitbart.)  Some companies may offer less-sustainable alternatives in certain product areas.  (E.g., muscle cars, heavily-sugared cereals, and other “retro” products.)  Corporations may put on hold major new green investments until things “settle down.” None of this is long-term stuff.  We can mend these pieces and fix these holes.

We at CSRHub see our data and tools as a way to improve how a company communicates its progress and a means to reduce the cost of and improve the effectiveness of sustainability reporting. My mom once put the lid of a tea pot I’d smashed under my pillow and told me that it would give me sweet dreams.  Let’s remember what we’ve been through and all that we’ve accomplished so far.  Then, let’s move forward and dream again, about a better future.

Photo courtesy of  Ruth Edwards


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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A Gift - Help 10 Students and Yourself - One for TEN for CSR

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 16, 2016 11:06:19 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

We are thankful for all the hard work to advance CSR and sustainability this year. In gratitude, CSRHub will give you 10% off an annual plan AND give TEN students a free subscription for their academic research… from now until 12/31. We are calling this our One for Ten for CSR.

Every day we receive many requests from students around the world seeking access to our database for their researchCSRhub on company behavior. These students can change the world and often cannot afford even a reduced fee subscription.  

Many are reviewing their yearend 2016 budgets and telling us they are ready to start their CSRHub subscription. Are you ready to get started, too?  Simply use coupon code ONEfor10 during checkout.

There is no better time to gain full access to the world’s largest sustainability business intelligence database available. Our ratings and rankings tools will help you benchmark, evaluate, and improve company sustainability performance.

  • 16,500+ companies to drill down to 12 subcategory levels and pinpoint areas to improve
  • Ready-to-go, macro-powered dashboards to do the analysis for you
  • API access – custom research – reports
  • We can’t tell you this one yet – but it will knock your socks off! We are piloting a new tool to help you figure out which of your “high influencer” raters think you’ve been naughty or nice! 

 

More easy-to-use tools are under development right now to ensure you have a sustainable and successful 2017! Now is the time to get started - use coupon code ONEfor10 during checkout.

Do you need help picking out the best plan for your needs? Simply contact us and we will be happy to guide you and answer your questions. Please feel free to pass this offer along.


Sincerely,

Bahar and Cynthia

 

 Cofounders of CSRHub.png

Bahar Gidwani and Cynthia Figge, Co-founders of CSRHub

CSRHub provides access to the world’s largest corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information.  It covers over 16,000 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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HBR’s Top Performing CEOs List - Financial Results and Sustainability—A Complex Relationship

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 26, 2016 8:00:00 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

 

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently published its 2016 list of the world’s top 100 CEOs.  As in the past, HBR’s staff looked at the financial and ESG (environment, social, governance) performance of the CEOs of 1,200 large companies.  They used a measure of financial performance developed by a team of Harvard academics for 80% of their score.  The remaining 20% came from averaging two overall measures of corporate sustainability performance, including CSRHub.

HBR has been publishing this list since 2010 and CEOs apparently intently study their “rank” and any year-to-year changes.  The list originally included only measures of financial return.  In 2015, HBR started including ESG performance, such as those CSRHub gathers and reports.

Is there a connection between a CEO’s financial performance measure and the corporate social responsibility (CSR) or ESG performance of the CEO’s company?  Those of us who care about sustainability would expect (hope?) the answer is “Yes.”  Unfortunately, details we uncovered during this year’s rating process say that the answer is probably “Maybe” or “It depends.”

 

Are the Top 100 Different From The Rest?

CSRHub rates the perceived ESG performance of 16,550 companies in 133 countries.  We have full ratings on 1,180 of the 1,200 companies that HBR studied.  The table below compares the average performance for the top companies against the rest of the list, for community, employee, environment, and governance issues.  (HBR included 104 companies in its Top 100 list, due to a number of ties.)

 

Comparison of the CSRHub Corporate Social Responsibility Rankings for HBR Top 100 Companies and Those Not Chosen

Comparison of the CSRHub Corporate Social Responsibility Rankings for HBR Top 100 Companies and Those Not Chosen

 

As you can see, the top companies had only slightly better perceived sustainability performance than the rest of the companies.  When we adjust for the different number of companies in each of the two groups, there is a significant (P<0.02) difference only in the Community area.

This suggests that the best CEOs out of this sample of companies pay a bit more attention to issues associated with the sustainability of their Products, have good Philanthropy programs, and care about Human Rights and their Supply Chains.  But, they don’t seem to pay significantly more attention than other CEOs to issues relating to Employees, the Environment, or to their corporate Governance.  And, they still rank in their community efforts below the average of the other 15,000+ companies we track.

 

Are the Top 50 Financial Performers Better Than the Next 50?

What about the “best of the best?”  If we divide the HBR Top 100 into two groups by their HBR financial performance scores, would the top financial performers have better or worse social performance than the bottom group?

The table below shows the answer to this question.  It is probably an answer that many sustainability professionals will not want to hear.  The top financial performers had much worse perceived sustainability performance than those with somewhat worse financial performance.

Comparison of the CSRHub Corporate Social Responsibility Rankings for Top 50 Companies and the next 54 Companies as Ranked By Their HBR Financial Performance Score

 

Comparison of the CSRHub Corporate Social Responsibility Rankings for Top 50 Companies and the next 54 Companies as Ranked By Their HBR Financial Performance Score

 

These results are good evidence that some CEOs may emphasize good shareholder returns (high profit margins, high turnover of assets, strong stock performance, etc.) rather than good social performance (good community relations, happy employees, a clean environment, etc.).  Of course, the HBR study focuses only on very large, publicly-traded companies and there are only 104 companies where we have full data.  But, there is virtually no probability—P < 0.000001—that the top 50 do not trail the next 54 on both overall ratings and on all four categories of social responsibility.

 

Does It Make Sense to Combine Financial With Social?

The table above illustrates why HBR decided to integrate social issues into their ranking.  Using a single financial scale wasn’t teasing out the best CEO performance.  Using only social measures wasn’t doing it either.  Instead, HBR integrated the two measures in a balanced way that resulted in the surprising result shown below.

Comparison of the CSRHub Corporate Social Responsibility Rankings for Top 10 Companies and the next 94 Companies, as Ranked by their Overall HBR Score

 

Comparison of the CSRHub Corporate Social Responsibility Rankings for Top 10 Companies and the next 94 Companies, as Ranked by their Overall HBR Score

 

The financial scores within the Top 100 are pretty similar.  By using a social performance signal to differentiate among these financially similar performers and create an Overall HBR Score, HBR was able to pick a top group that had both good financial returns and strong sustainability performance.  This shows it is possible to both “do well” and “do good.”  Thanks to HBR, CEOs who manage this difficult balance have a shot at getting the recognition they deserve.

 


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 16,000 companies from 135 industries in 132 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 461 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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Brand Intelligence Solutions Enters Into Alliance With CSRHub

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 5, 2016 10:13:51 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

Brand Intelligence solutions logo

Csrhub logo

Brand Intelligence Solutions has entered into an Alliance with CSRHub, the world’s most comprehensive non-financial (Brand/CSR/ESG) rating database, to launch the “360° Brand Intelligence Solutions Benchmark Tool.” Using real time data, you can now benchmark your sustainability and brand story against your competitors and industry leaders.

Elisa Turner, founder and CEO of Brand Intelligence Solutions says, “The fabric of business models has changed. In 1935 corporations and brands were valued based solely on their financial assets and performance – today up to 80% of corporate and brand value is based on non-financial asset performance. It is a fact today that companies who manage their non-financial assets as diligently as their financial ones consistently outperform their counterparts. The challenge corporation’s face today is: how to evolve from the 1935 myopic culture to one that is informed and consistently evolving to meet the required attributes for success today.”

The first step in addressing this challenge is awareness and knowledge of: what is material, industry leader benchmarks, where you rate against the leaders, what are your risks, brand reputation amongst stakeholders and evolving regulations and stakeholder expectations.

Brand intelligence is the aligned management of non-financial assets.

brand intelligence defined

Brand Intelligence is the quality of a company’s non-financial asset awareness engagement, performance, and communication. These assets include; brand reputation, environmental, social, human, product, supply-chain and governance.

Brand Intelligence touches every aspect of your business and brand today. A 360° holistic view of your non-financial asset performance in critical to managing in today’s economy.

For the first time – it is available!

brand intelligence benchmarking tool

With this tool for the first time, you have a real-time data based 360° holistic view of your non-financial performance from external stakeholders and the ability to benchmark that against industry leaders and competitors. Brand Intelligence Solutions and CSRHub will provide corporations with their external "Brand Intelligence Scores."

The 360° Brand Intelligence Solutions Benchmark Tool is a game changer – for the first time the links between sustainability, brand, communications, and profit are visible and can be measured. This means they can now be managed and in quantifiable terms, just like you do financial ones.

Brand Intelligence Solutions has also entered into an Alliance with FigBytes, a global leader, next generation non-financial management system to launch the “360° Brand Intelligence Solutions Benchmark Tool.”

About Brand Intelligence Solutions

Brand Intelligence is an independent consulting firm, globally recognized as a leader in the area of sustainable business systems and sustainable brands. Founded by Elisa Turner, a trailblazer in sustainable business for 15 years – prior to this she spent 10 years working in the C-Suite of some of the world's most recognized retail brands.

The Brand Intelligence© framework - is a systemized approach developed over 15 years for companies to build, operationalize and manage Brand Intelligence©. For more information about Brand Intelligence Solutions, go to http://www.brandintelligence.solutions/. Please contact Brand Intelligence anytime for more information at elisa@brandintelligence.solutions.

About CSRHub 

CSRHub provides access to the world’s largest corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information, covering on 16,500 companies from 135 industries in 133 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 469 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 academics use CSRHub for sustainability intelligence 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 a Research and Insight Partner of Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

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