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

Why Mandatory Reporting is the Key to Better Benchmarking

[fa icon="calendar'] Jul 9, 2015 10:48:02 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

Guest Author: Adriana Salazar

A well-known quote from 19th century American writer Mark Twain says “Comparison is the death of joy”, but if you’re a company wanting to create a sustainability strategy that makes business sense, what if I tell you there’s a lot to be happy about in comparing yourself with others?

And what if I tell you mandatory reporting is instrumental in helping you make these comparisons?

By others, of course, I mean your industry peers. Peer benchmarking is the process designed to assist companies in comparing themselves with each other (on specific metrics or processes for instance) in order to grow and make better strategic decisions. If we focus on sustainability benchmarking, the process naturally closes in on sustainability-relevant metrics.

So why benchmark? Companies that grasp the importance of a solid sustainability strategy (and view it as an asset rather than a hindrance) know investors increasingly value this forward-thinking approach. In addition, knowing where you stand against your competitors and identifying strengths and weaknesses for improved strategic decision-making can help your corporation drive innovation and increase bottom line benefits. But for all its benefits (if you follow the blog, you’ll know we’ve discussed this before), the benchmarking process also has its challenges. To name one, sustainability benchmarking is only as good as the data it’s based on.

If you’re a company wanting to benchmark your sustainability data against your peers, you’ll likely want to use third party tools and services offering a good range of data and allowing you to run quick and reliable comparisons on a variety of indicators. But if you think about it, the only reason your company will even have access to this type of data in the first place, is because your industry peers and competitors have made their sustainability data publicly available.

In short, data (always) matters. Good quality and publicly available metrics are at the core of sustainability benchmarking. And this is where the question of mandatory reporting comes in. The next time you hear someone complain about compulsory sustainability reporting, there’s at least one solid argument you can give them: Although voluntary reporting is fairly extended, it’s the mandatory disclosure of key (and sometimes sensitive!) data that’s going to take sustainability benchmarking to the next level. For a corporation to obtain a truly reality-based snapshot of where it stands against its peers, both industry leaders and laggards need to have previously measured and released the ‘metrics that matter’, including those they would rather not report about.

While it’s true that regulatory instruments remain largely voluntary at the global level, mandatory sustainability reporting standards and legislation are increasingly present at the national level. According to GRI’s 2013 ‘Carrots & Sticks’ publication, which analyzed the increasing number of national and international reporting policies from around the world, in 2006, 58 percent of policies were mandatory, while 7 years later, over two thirds (72 percent) of the 180 policies in the 45 reviewed countries were compulsory.

In 2013 (see image below), GRI already highlighted that sustainability reporting requirements and recommendations were on the rise in the EU. More recently, due to the December 2014 EU Directive on the Disclosure of non-financial and Diversity Information by Certain Large Undertakings and Groups, by the end of 2017 an estimated 6,000 public interest companies with over 500 employees, across 28 Member States, will be required to disclose relevant and material environmental and social information in their annual reports.


In addition, increased mandatory reporting (contributing to improve and expand the quality and availability of data for sustainability benchmarking), also means the days of greenwashing are over. Highlighting a few obscure and supposedly ‘green’ KPIs in your next sustainability report is probably not going to convince anyone. Fortunately, globally and in the past few years, sustainability reporting has taken the opposite direction (towards increased disclosure, transparency, visibility, dialogue…), and that’s something we should all be very grateful for.

There are a number of user-friendly solutions to help you benchmark. At Enablon Publisher, we partnered with CSRHub to create a benchmarking tool allowing any corporation to quickly and efficiently measure environmental, social, governance and community performance against industry peers. From a user perspective, all you have to do is enter the name of your company, select your competitors, and start benchmarking!

If the idea intrigues you, visit us at: http://publisher.enablon.com/templates/benchmark/


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[fa icon="comment"] 1 Comment posted in benchmarking, CSR, sustainability benchmarking, sustainability reporting, Uncategorized, Mandatory Reporting, CSRHub, greenwashing, metrics

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.


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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[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments posted in Big Data solution, community, Compensation and Benefits, CSR, CSRHub schema, Cynthia Figge, Diversity and Labor Rights, EIRIS, Energy and Climate Change, Environmental Policy and Reporting, ESG, governance, GovernanceMetrics International, sustainability benchmarking, Wizness, RepRisk, Uncategorized, IW Financial, MSCI, NGO, Resource Management, Trucost, Vigeo, CDP, employees, environment, SRI, Thomson Reuters, Training Health and Safety

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