CSRHub and Wizness Announce Benchmarking Service Partnership

CSRHub and Wizness Publisher

CSRHub is pleased to announce it has formed a partnership with Wizness, powered by Enablon, to sell benchmark reports on their Publisher platform. The Publisher solution enables companies to easily design and publish interactive CSR reports that are social-friendly and mobile ready. Through their collaboration, CSRHub and Wizness Publisher will allow users to create a custom benchmark report piping in CSRHub ratings comparing five companies. The report will be available online through laptop and mobile devices, but also downloadable as a PDF.

 

Wizness and CSRHub have joined forces to let you benchmark your Sustainability Scores against your competitors. Your benchmark is presented through a responsive report which you can easily share with your team.

 

Benchmarking CSR_Wizness and CSRHub

 

Wizness Publisher and CSRHub plan to launch the service soon, but interested users can already register for an early preview at the following address: https://publisher.wizness.com/csrhub

 

About Wizness

 

Wizness is an online platform which enables companies to collect their Sustainability data, create their online Sustainability profile, design & publish interactive CSR reports, and engage in interactive conversations with their stakeholders. Through its services, Wizness enables organizations to reduce their reputational risks and communication costs as well as reinforce their brands.

 

Wizness is powered by Enablon, the world’s leading software provider of Sustainability, EH&S and Risk Management solutions.

 

For more info about Wizness, please visit https://publisher.wizness.com/

For more info about Enablon, please visit http://enablon.com/

 

About CSRHub 

 

CSRHub provides access to the world’s largest corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information, covering on 9,300 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.

 

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

 

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Using “Big Data” to Rate Corporate Social Responsibility: One Company’s Approach

The following is part 1 of a 3-part series on “Big Data.”

 

By Bahar Gidwani

 

“Big Data” is a useful tool for rating corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability performance.  We believe that the Big Data system that CSRHub has developed is one answer to dealing with the rise in new ratings systems (it seems there is a new one announced each month) and with the disparities in scores that occur among these different systems.

 

In 2001, Doug Laney (currently an analyst for Gartner), foresaw that users of data were facing problems handling the Volume of data they were gathering, the Variety of data in their systems, and the Velocity with which data elements changed.  These “three Vs” are now part of most definitions of the “Big Data” area.

 

Ratings in the CSR space appear to be a candidate for a big data solution to its three “V” problems.

 

  • Volume:  There are many sources of ratings.  CSRHub currently tracks more than 330 sources of CSR information and plans to add at least another 30 sources over the next six months.  Our system already contains more than 55,000,000 pieces of data from these sources that touch more than 140,000 companies.  We hope eventually to expand our coverage to include several million companies.
  • Variety:  Each of these 330 sources uses different criteria to measure corporate sustainability and social performance.  A number of comprehensive sustainability measurement approaches have been created.  Unfortunately, each new entrant into the area seems compelled to create yet another system.
  • Velocity:  With hundreds of thousands of companies to measure and at least 330 different measurement systems, the perceived sustainability performance of companies constantly changes.  Many of the available ratings systems track these changes only on a quarterly or annual basis.

 

Most systems for measuring the CSR and sustainability performance of corporations rely on human-based analysis.  A researcher selects a set of companies to study, determines the criteria he or she wishes to use to evaluate their performance, and then collects the data needed to support the study.  When the researcher can’t find a required data item in a company’s sustainability report or press releases, he or she may try to contact the company to get the data.

 

Some research firms try to streamline this process by sending out a questionnaire that covers all the things they want to know.  Then, they follow up to encourage companies to answer their questions and follow up again after they receive the answers, to check the facts and be sure their questions were answered consistently.  An NAEM survey showed that its members were seeing an average of more than ten of these results in 2011, and some large companies say they receive as many as 300 survey requests per year.

 

 

Graph on External Data

 

NAEM Green Metrics That Matter Report—2012 for 35 members.

 

Both the direct and survey-driven approaches to data gathering are reasonable and can lead to sound ratings and valuable insights.  However, both are limited in several important ways:

 

  • The studied companies are the primary source of the data used to evaluate them.  While analysts can question and probe, they have no way to determine how accurately a company has responded.
  • Different areas of a company may respond differently to analyst questions.  It’s hard to determine objectively from the outside, which area of a company has the right perspective and which answer is correct.
  • When companies get too many surveys and requests for data, they stop responding to them.  This “survey fatigue” leads to gaps in the data collected.  Note that only a few thousand large companies have full-time staff available to answer researcher questions.
  • Often analysts cannot financially justify studying smaller companies.  There is little interest in smaller companies from the investor clients who pay for most CSR data collection.  As a result, most analyst-driven research covers a subset of the world’s 5,000 largest companies.  There are only a few data sets bigger than this, and they cover only limited subject areas.  There is very little coverage for private companies, public organizations, or companies based in emerging markets.

 

Large Companies Get Heavy ESG Attention

 

Large Companies Get Heavy ESG Attention

 

  • A human-driven process will always involve a certain amount of interpretation of the data.  This in turn can lead to biases that are hard to detect and remove.
  • Each human-driven result is based on its own schema and therefore they are hard to compare.  Companies do not understand why their rating varies from one system to the next and this reduces their confidence in all ratings systems.

 

It may be useful to take a look at some details of one company’s approach to a “Big Data” based analysis of CSR ratings. Our next post explains how CSRHub applies its methodology to address “Big Data” problems while also noting that every system has some limitations.

 


 

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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Fossil Fuel’s Persuasive New Strategy

By Carol Pierson Holding

 

The Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) just released an analysis of the “Financial Impact of theGulf of Mexico Coming Low-Carbon Transition,” which computed the potential value lost to stranded assets, or what fossil fuel companies will have to leave in the ground in oil, gas and coal. The CPI estimated the lost value at $1.1 trillion, plus another $1.8 to $4.2 trillion for the transport sector (think oil trains.) This total of $2.9-$5.3 trillion represents up to one quarter of total U.S. stock market value.

 

While the CPI report was meant to be positive – operating savings (think of the expense of solar panels vs. a coal plant) would offset stranded assets, creating a net positive of $1.8 trillion—it still sounded terrifying. And while the report claims the worst impact will be on Governments, which own 50-70 percent of fossil fuel companies and generate substantial revenue through taxes and royalties, I felt distracted from my central concern about climate change. Could we absorb the coming disruption?

 

The oil companies offer a painless alternative. Yes, we have to transition to renewable energy, but who better to lead that transition than the energy giants? Their leadership campaign is three-pronged:

 

First, acknowledge the need to transition away from fossil fuels.

 

This tactic was first used by Shell Oil. In its 2013 New Lens Scenario, Shell acknowledged that such a transition was necessary and offered a non-disruptive way to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2100: to minimize economic disruption, transition first to natural gas. Even liberals like Amory Lovins endorsed the strategy.

 

Now, 1½ years later, the entire fossil fuel industry has followed suit. Even the arch-conservative organization Heartland Institute has dropped its terror tactics (recall their 2012 billboard headlined “(The Unibomber) Still Believes in Global Warming. Do You?”). and gone so far as create the Climate Change Awards, which in July 2014 granted up to $50,000 each to ten scientists, economists and activists who support a “free-market approach to climate change” and “speak out against global warming alarmists.”

 

Second, address consumers directly with messages of safety and continuity.

 

Oil companies are running network television advertising not that different from the “Morning in America” calm, optimistic commercials that put Ronald Reagan in the White House.

 

You do get a sense of peace watching BP’s “Committed to America” spot.

 

Exxon/Mobil’sFuel Connections” ad offers gas that “cleans intake valves, helping engines run smoother and reducing emissions” providing “better fuel economy.” Amazing.

 

Chevron’s “We Agree” campaign advocates natural gas, with the admonition “We’ve got to be smart about this.”

 

Third, and this might be a fortuitously-timed accident: they lowered gas prices.

 

According to Thomas Friedman writing in the New York Times, U.S. and Iraqi oil companies have lowered their price per barrel in order to “bankrupt” Russia and Iran. Putting aside whether it’s a smart strategy to destabilize unfriendly, combative countries, the drop in oil prices could also change the economics of electric cars. Low gas prices coupled with messages about gas that gives “better fuel economy” cast doubt on the e-vehicle and hybrid claims are a better value.

 

And as oil companies align themselves with the U.S. government’s foreign policy, they’ll have better leverage in their quest to open our East Coast to drilling.

 

Finally, let’s not forget the threat of major economic dislocation. For stockholders, stranded assets add uncertainty to a stock market that’s already roiling. Another reason not to rock the boat by demanding a transition to renewables that’s too fast and disruptive.

 

Safety is beginning to look pretty good, even to me. You just have to ignore the reality of a dying planet, which over the last week, has been easier to do. Ebola and ISIS dominate the news. An admittedly small sample of media shows a disturbing lack of climate change news. Even the Huffington Post’s reliable “Green” alerts have seemed stretched away from real climate news to include Ebola coverage, like the nurse’s dog story, and lots of news about the climbers who died in Nepal.

 

It’s a shame how easy it is to distract us.

 

Photo courtesy of sporst via Flickr CC.

 

 


Carol Pierson HoldingCarol Pierson Holding writes on environmental issues and social responsibility for policy and news publications, including the Carnegie Council’s Policy Innovations, Harvard Business Review, San Francisco Chronicle, India Time, The Huffington Post and many other web sites. Her articles on corporate social responsibility can be found on CSRHub.com, a website that provides sustainability ratings data on 9,300+ companies worldwide. Carol holds degrees from Smith College and Harvard University.

 

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 9,300+ companies from 135 industries in 106 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 343 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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Concrete Proof

By Bahar Gidwani

 

There are many world problems that we don’t experience personally.  I got “concrete proof” last week of one that I’d only heard about abstractly, before.birds in New York

 

I was scurrying to a meeting in Midtown.  I got to the corner of Madison and 43rd and was just going to cross the street when something on the sidewalk caught my eye.

 

It was a colorful bird’s severed head.  New Yorkers swirled past me on all sides, threatening to stomp on it with their stilettos or smash it with their rolling bags.  I looked upwards and saw the sheer sides of a towering, stone and glass faced office building.  Then, I remembered an article I’d seen recently that estimated that 25,000 birds die each year, when they crash into New York City skyscrapers.

 

tall New York Skyscrapers

43rd and Madison—the bird is on the right.

 

New York sits in the middle of a major bird migration route.  Each year, birds of all sizes and shapes stop off in the swamps and fields of the Hudson River’s delta to have a bite to eat, take sip of water, and rest a bit.  Many of them show up late in the day or travel at night.

 

As birds fly through our area, they get confused by the lights on our buildings or fail to avoid the large, dark, reflective windows that we’ve coated them with.  This is apparently not a new issue.  For example, here is a quote from an old newspaper report: “On the evening of 22 August 1888, after a cold front passed through New York City, almost 1,500 migratory birds were found dead below the nearby Statue of Liberty, apparently drawn to the newly installed electric lights on the statue.”  The problem is also not unique to New York City.  Portland’s extensive guide for making buildings “bird safe” cites a scientific estimate that 34 million birds die each year in the US from collisions with buildings.

 

The article that made me aware of the problem spoke of building workers whose daily ritual included sweeping up piles of dead and damaged birds.  When I thought of how sad my one example made me, I knew I’d found another job I couldn’t/wouldn’t do.

 

As with most problems, there are solutions.  However, those that exist seem to be neither simple nor popular.  They include:

 

  • Turn off the floodlights.  Yes, New York’s skyline is beautiful at night—a never-ending show that delights those who see it.  But, the lights consume a fair amount of energy (the Empire State Building’s lights were turned off for a while during the 1973 energy crisis) and they confuse birds.  A number of buildings have agreed to cut back the hours they show lights.  Perhaps we could go further and light buildings only on weekends (5/7 fewer bird deaths from lights?).
  • Shorter towers.  Most birds migrate at about 2,000 feet—well above the height of most skyscrapers.  (The Empire State Building is 1,424 feet tall.)  However, birds do fly lower if there is fog or rain.  If all new buildings were below 1,000 feet, we might at least keep things from getting worse.  Unfortunately, New York is currently in the midst of building a bunch of new super tall residential skyscrapers.  Will the people who own their penthouses enjoy hearing birds bounce off their terrace windows?
  • Make tall buildings bird friendly.  Birds don’t seem to crash into mountains or tall trees.  They are sensitive to certain colors of light and can see windows when they have certain patterns etched on the inside.  It should be possible to change window designs, add nets, or design a building shape that birds can recognize and avoid.  More work is needed here—and installing these systems won’t be free.  New York Audobon Society has a great handbook on this subject, plus there is the Portland article I mentioned before and support from our friends at LEED via their Pilot Credit 55.

 
Perhaps you have something to add?  Please share your comments with me.  I’d like to help raise awareness about this issue, and see only live pigeons on our sidewalks.

 

 


 

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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Crowd Sourcing CSR Metrics

By Bahar Gidwani

 

Sustainable Brands kindly invited me to speak at their Boston New Metrics ’14 conference.  They asked me to lead a panel called “Tapping the Crowd for Insights and Solutions: Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding, and the Personal Data Economy.”  I got to work with three experts: Gwen Nguyen, Cause Director, Indiegogo; Reki Hattori, CTO, Datacoup, and Dr. Thomas Malone from MIT’s Climate CoLab.  It was fun to work with them and I think both I and the audience learned something from our presentations and discussion.

 

We at CSRHub had recently posted research on the relationship between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and crowdfunding.  However, the SB folks wanted me to talk about how crowd data could influence sustainability metrics.  This is a topic we care about deeply—we have already integrated more than a quarter million pieces of crowd data into our database.

 

I started by pointing out that we already have many good sources of sustainability information.  In fact, there are almost too many for anyone to track via normal means.  CSRHub currently lists >330 sources in our system, and that number grows by three to ten sources per month.

 

sources of sustainability information

 

CSRHub gathers all this data into one place, harmonizes it, and makes it useful to sustainability practitioners.  We’ve recently grown our coverage to include more than 9,000 companies in 106 countries.

 

CSRHub Ratings

 

Ten years ago, only a few large (or very socially-minded) companies issued corporate responsibility reports or reported their performance to groups such as GRI or CDP.  These days, thousands of companies have employee-driven community service programs, recycling and carbon reduction targets, and sustainability areas on their web sites.  As you can see below, after twenty years of progress, more than 90% of the Global 250 issues CSR reports.

 

KPMG Survey of CSR Reporting 2013 Shows That Most Big Companies Have CSR Reports

 

CR reporting

 

Hundreds of thousands of middle-sized and smaller companies—many of whom are privately held or not-for-profit organizations—are starting to report their social performance to their customers (via sustainability supply chain systems) or to local or national government organizations.  In contrast to the situation with bigger companies, most of the new data that smaller companies generate is never made public.  This has left a big gap that we believe crowd data can help fill.

 

crowd sourcing fills ratings gap

 

For instance, we have already integrated sources that provide data on as many as two million companies.  (In fact, AMEE told me recently they may be able soon to track more than 10 million firms.)

 

Glassdoor, Ekobai, WeGreen, AMEE

 

Crowd sources monetize in various ways.  For instance, Ekobai charges companies to list on its site, WeGreen captures a small part of the consumer purchases it helps direct, and Glassdoor sells job ads.  To generate the traffic and attention they need, crowd sources typically cover both larger, well-studied companies, and smaller ones.

 

We already use the data on one company to standardize and normalize the data on other companies.  We can therefore use our non-crowd expert sources to understand and adjust the ratings we get from crowd sources.  As a result, we should soon be able to track at least 50,000 companies and hopefully soon have ratings on hundreds of thousands of companies, both public and private, from around the world.

 

CSRHub crowd source data

 

Sustainability ratings and metrics are vital for making a number of business decisions.  By broadening the number of companies that can be rated, we should be able to enable faster and more accurate supply chain management, improve private investment decision-making, and encourage consumers to shift their purchases towards more sustainable products.  Most people seem to feel that consumer rating and credit management systems have improved our ability to make business decisions.  Broad-based sustainability ratings, based at least partly on crowd data sources, should generate similar long-term value for everyone.

 

 


 

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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