Is It Already Over?

By: Carol Pierson-Holding

 

Last week I met a young man who is about to major in environmental engineering. When he found out I blog about climate change, his first question was, “Is it already over?”

 

Moon-Trek

Clearly he intended to be provocative. But it was an interesting question from someone about to enter the environmental field. He wanted to talk about solar arrays in space and space elevators. Both are ideas that would in part alter the sun’s radiation, preventing it from warming earth.

 

Don’t these ideas sound nuts? The National Academy of Sciences agrees, reporting that the idea of increasing the earth’s reflectivity so that more sunlight gets bounced back into space is, in their more tempered language, “fraught.”

 

Clive Hamilton, the Australian climate change ethicist and author, puts it more strongly in the UN web magazine Our World, “Some of the ideas put forward to block the sun’s heat would be far-fetched even in a science fiction novel.”

 

The excitement my young student showed was, in its own way, just as troubling. As environmental activist Rachel Smolker blogged in Huffington Post, “What is clear is that climate geoengineering is opening new doors for many career seekers. From scientists with superman complexes, eager to be seen as doing ‘cutting edge’ work with big important global consequence, to various environmental and other NGO careerists seeking grant support, status and a place at the table.”

 

In other words, geoengineering is the new macho, no matter how otherwise sincere my young friend.

 

All of the schemes for climate solutions that change the delicate balance between the atmosphere, the ocean and the sun’s energy sound deranged. But what if these ideas seduce us into believing that we can continue to rely on carbon-spewing fossil fuels until all the reserves are used up?

 

According to Smolker, solar reflectivity and other geoengineering ideas, with the exception of technologies designed to remove emissions such as carbon scrubbing, are diverting our attention, “…from implementing the straightforward, proven, low tech, low risk approaches to saving the planet…like halting deforestation, protecting biodiversity, putting a halt to overconsumption, ending the mining, fracking, clear cutting and burning of the planet…”

 

Just as with climate change in the early days, scientists are lining up on either side. The predominance of scientific bodies argue for caution. Their projections show the potential harm, as in the weakening of coral reefs and sea life shells that results from fertilizing the ocean with iron or the projected side effect of sprinkling the atmosphere with sulphates, which scientists say may reduce our rainfall.

 

The most enthusiastic proponents of bioengineering include the fossil fuel companies and their organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute. In 2013, the influential think tank partly funded by ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers, launched a high-profile project to promote “geoengineering,” or as the National Geographic defines it, “intentional intervening in the climate system in an attempt to forestall some of the impact of global warming.”

 

Shell and ConocoPhillips are investing in geoengineering and using it to buttress their argument that we will don’t have to stop using fossil fuels because we will innovate ourselves out of our climate crisis.

 

To an ex-branding person like me, the most-telling signal of pro-geoengineering forces’ intentions is the re-branding taking place. From the original and now highly controversial “geoengineering” term to a replacement that turned out to be no better — “climate engineering,” the current moniker is the evocative “climate intervention,” as though the climate has a problem which only humans can fix.

 

Advocates for “climate intervention” think the best strategy is to alter nature’s delicate balance, to address climate change by changing the climate. But it’s Mother Earth who has the genius for cleaning up messes, not us. Think of the mushrooms currently used to detoxify superfund sites. Surely we can figure out a similar solution to excessive carbon, one that mimics nature rather than destroying it.

 

Let’s attend to our own “intervention” and fix what we can, those behaviors that caused climate change. We won’t destroy the earth, just our ability to survive on it. It’s our own extinction that’s at stake. The solution is not to alter earth’s magnificent equilibrium but our own self-destructive behavior.

 

To answer my young friend, no, it’s not over.

 

Photo courtesy of photophilde 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 14,400+ companies worldwide. Carol holds degrees from Smith College and Harvard University.

 

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 14,400+ companies from 135 industries in 127 countries. 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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Does CSR Performance Affect the Quality of Digital Communications?

By Bahar Gidwani, in collaboration with Marcus Fergusson of Investis

 

Is a company that has a strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) reputation more likely to be a better user of digital media?  Are its web sites and other digital communications more useful and have better content?  We might expect a connection between sustainability performance and the communication of a company’s CSR program. But is there also a broader connection that demonstrates that a company that has a sophisticated digital communications strategy and strong CSR/sustainability programs will have necessarily incorporated communication of their CSR program into their communications strategy?

 

We compared CSRHub data on perceived CSR performance for 14,441 companies and Investis data on the digital communications performance of 937 companies.  We found we could explain 39% of the variation in digital communications quality for 845 overlapping companies.  We found that good policies on employee compensation, employee training/health/safety, energy and climate change, and on environment policy were correlated with better digital communications performance.  On the other hand, strong human rights and supply chain strategies and resource management programs seemed to be connected to weaker digital communications performance.

 

These results are consistent with data CSRHub has collected on the correlation between sustainability performance and brand strength or reputational risk.  Certain sustainability programs seem to be well understood and accepted by consumers, suppliers, employees and other stakeholders who learn about them.  Other programs are not as well understood and may not directly contribute to success in these areas—although they may help with things such as reducing credit costs.

 

CSRHUB_Investis-graph

 

 

To see the complete details of this new research by CSRHub and Investis, download the report here.

 

 

About the Authors

 

By Bahar Gidwani, in collaboration with Marcus Fergusson of Investis.

 

 

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. Bahar is a member of the SASB Advisory Board.  He plays bridge, races sailboats, and is based in New York City.  Marcus Fergusson is the Research Director at Investis. He runs a 20-strong team of business analysts, conducting and publishing research on global digital trends in corporate communications and benchmarking the corporate digital performance of the world’s leading publicly listed companies. He previously worked for Demos, Britain’s leading cross-party think tank, and in ethical brand strategy. He has a BA in Modern History from the University of Oxford.

 

 

About CSRHub

 

CSRHub provides access to the world’s largest corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information.  It covers over 14,000 companies from 135 industries in 127 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 380 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.

 

About Investis

 

Investis is an international digital corporate communications and investor relations company, which works with approximately 2,000 clients from offices in five countries. The companies it serves include more than 70% of the constituents of the FTSE 100 and more than 150 US clients. Founded in 2000, Investis helps clients manage their corporate communications and investor relations through corporate websites, IR webhosting, social media, apps & mobile, video and webcasting, website tools and online reporting.

 

 

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4 Different Brand Ranking Systems Show Common Ties to Perceived Sustainability Performance

By Jennifer Saunders and Bahar Gidwani

 

Many aspects of a company’s performance affect its brand value. Marketing spend, distribution strength, and product quality all have proven effects. This study indicates that a company’s perceived sustainability performance may be another important factor.

 

In 2013, CSRHub showed that its measures of perceived corporate sustainability performance had a 28% correlation with Brand Finance’s Brand Strength Indicator (BSI). CSRHub recently published an update that showed this correlation continues to persist for financial companies. This study extends our analysis to include three other independent brand ranking systems:

 

  • RepTrak Pulse Score.  The Reputation Institute’s RepTrak model examines the relationship between the emotional connection, or “Pulse” score, a “measure of the degree of Admiration, Trust, Good Feeling and Overall Esteem that a company stakeholder holds.”
  • Interbrand’s Best Global Brands list.  Interbrand provides an analysis and picture of how your brand is contributing to business results today. Interbrand publishes annually a “Best Global Brands” list of the 100 brands it considers most powerful.
  • CoreBrand’s CBI.  Tenet Partners’ CoreBrand Analytics group  generates an annual Corporate Branding Index (CBI) that measures and quantifies the impact of investment in the corporate brand and how brands perform against peers both across and within industries.

 
We compared data from these sources with CSRHub ratings and brand strength data from our long time data source in the branding area, Brand Finance. CSRHub provides sustainability information on more than 14,000 companies in 127 countries. CSRHub’s ratings and metrics are drawn from more than 380 sustainability data sources.
 
Our research found that the scores from all four leading brand ranking systems correlated with at least one of CSRHub’s sustainability measures. Further, we found consistent results across the four systems that may help brand managers better understand how to coordinate with and support their company’s sustainability programs. In particular, we found a positive correlation between brand and Compensation & Benefits and Environment Policy & Reporting strength. Success in these areas seems tied to better brand rankings.

 

Brand CSR Study CSRHub

 

To see the complete details and next steps, download the full report here.

 


About the Authors

Jennifer Saunders holds a degree in chemical engineering from Melbourne University, a postgraduate diploma in management from the Melbourne Business School, and certificates in sustainability reporting and stakeholder networks approaches to socio-political risk. She worked for design and manufacturing multinationals for 15 years. Her main focus was on engaging cross-functionally to collect and analyse design performance data, report on sustainability metrics, optimize processes and manage supply chain projects. She recently re-located from Australia to the Pacific Northwest where she has further fostered her career to focus on sustainability working with CSRHub.

 

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. Bahar is a member of the SASB Advisory Board.  He plays bridge, races sailboats, and is based in New York City.

 

 

About CSRHub

CSRHub provides access to the world’s largest corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information.  It covers over 14,000 companies from 135 industries in 127 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 380 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 Link Between Stock Exchange Membership and CSR Performance

By Bahar Gidwani

 

CSRHub recently examined corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability rating data for the 18,991 companies in fourteen major stock exchanges.  Despite the fact that CSRHub includes 64 million pieces of data from more than 380 sources, there is enough data to rate only 17% of the companies on these exchanges.  For some exchanges, only 1% of their companies could be rated.  The NASDAQ had the highest percentage of rated companies, with data available on 57% of its companies.

 

The average perceived sustainability performance of the companies varied, across the fourteen exchanges.  Companies on exchanges that require sustainability reporting had higher average ratings than those that did not.  We expect sustainability reporting to increase dramatically over the next few years in all parts of the world, as both exchanges and exchange regulators mandate more disclosure of material non-financial information.  Even without mandated disclosure, we should be able soon to assess the sustainability performance of most public companies, just as we currently measure their credit score or brand value.

 

Relative Performance

CSRHub measures twelve different areas of sustainability performance across four main categories of interest: community, employee, environment and governance issues.  There is enough data to fully measure the performance of 2,427 of the companies we studied—13% of the total.  We used this data to give an overview of the performance of the companies by exchange, as compared to all 9,300 companies we track.

 

CSRHub CSR Stock Exchange Link

 

 

To see the full discussion including variations in coverage, the current and future international reporting requirements and future implications, download a full report here.

 

 

 


 

Bahar GidwaniBahar Gidwani  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 14,400+ companies from 135 industries in 127 countries. 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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Cynthia Figge to Speak at Sustainable Brands’15

Join us as at Paradise Point in San Diego, CA, Sustainable BrandsJune 1-4 where brand, sustainability & design leaders find inspiration, tools and partnerships to drive business success and positive impact.

 

Our Cofounder and COO Cynthia Figge will speak on June 2. Cynthia will present “More Proof That Sustainability Drives Operating Performance.”

 

We look forward to seeing CSRHub members at SB’15!

 

For more information and to register,click here.

 

Sustainable Brands'15

 

 

 


 

Cynthia Figge, Co-founder and COO of CSRHubCynthia 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 14,000+ 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 14,400+ companies from 135 industries in 127 countries. 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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