EKOS International Launches Benchmark Report Service Using CSRHub Data

EKOSCSRHub

 

We are excited to announce that EKOS International is providing a new customized benchmark report service. Using data from CSRHub, the world’s largest database of sustainability ratings, the reports help companies assess their CSR performance compared to selected competitor, customer and peer companies, as a valuable input to their sustainability strategy and goal setting.

 

EKOS provides strategic sustainability consulting for many of North America’s best-known corporations and has been an international thought-leading consultancy on integrating sustainability for competitive advantage for almost 20 years. EKOS is using CSRHub’s 8,900 company ratings and millions of data points from over 300 sources to evaluate, compare, and objectively assess where its clients are leading and/or lagging. Clients receive actionable benchmarking analyses and strategic planning that they can use as a springboard for designing and accelerating their corporate sustainability performance.

 

CSRHub is adding EKOS’ benchmark service to its CSR Report Hub. To see CSRHub partner reports and the new EKOS customized report offering, go to the CSRHub reports page.

 

About EKOS International

 

EKOS International is a leading strategic sustainability consulting firm, helping companies understand the imperative for sustainability as a key driver of competitive advantage, and integrate CSR/ Sustainability into core strategy and operations. EKOS delivers customized solutions for strategic planning, global benchmarking, sustainability roadmaps and implementation, CSR Reporting, employee engagement, materiality assessment, and innovation.

 

For more information, visit www.ekosi.com or contact Lorinda Rowledge, Partner and Co-Founder, EKOS International: lrowledge@ekosi.com 206-232-4000

 

About CSRHub

 

CSRHub creates simple, direct comparisons of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability performance among competitors and across supply chains, industry, and regions. It reinforces third-party standards and encourages transparency and responsible behavior. Our comprehensive database of CSR information provides a complete set of sustainability metrics and tools. We support and serve the decision-making needs of corporate managers, researchers and activists.

 

For more information, visit www.csrhub.com or contact Bahar Gidwani, CEO and Co-Founder, CSRHub, bahar@csrhub.com.

 

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New Mobile App with CSRHub Sustainability Ratings

We are excited to announce Ethical Barcode hasEthical Barcode app powered by CSRHub API released a new app that lets you uncover what you’re truly supporting when you shop. Scan barcodes quickly at the grocery store, and make an empowered, ethical decision on what to buy. Ethical Barcode is using the newly updated CSRHub Specification for REST Access (CSRA) API to power CSRHub ratings into the app. Use Ethical Barcode to empower your next trip to the grocery store and instantly find out which companies really share your values on child labor, animal testing, deforestation and other ethical issues.

 

The app is already receiving some great reviews at the Google Play store!

Just what I needed! It’s now convenient to shop cruelty free. I’m so excited!  KGV
 
This app lets you know how sustainable a product is just by scanning the barcode. It is great helping you do your part to protect our planet!  P Hader

 

Learn more at ethicalbarcode.com/  and download for Android or Apple today.

 

Interested in piping CSRHub ratings into your next app or project? We are happy to help.  The CSRHub Specification for REST Access (CSRA) API offers a simple way for professional-level CSRHub subscribers and partners to request information from the CSRHub database. There are now 105 calls listed in the API, with more than 200 variations. A developer can easily write code that requests CSRHub overall, category or subcategory ratings. Applications can also use the CSRA API to request information about companies, ratings at the overall, category, or subcategory level for any month from December 2008 through the present, average ratings for industries and more.  Check out our newly updated API!

 

Subscribe to CSRHub today for access to the CSRHub Specification for REST Access (CSRA) API.  Let us know your development plans, and we can help promote your app or project release!

 


 

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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CSRHub CEO Bahar Gidwani Speaking at 2nd Annual CSR Investing Summit

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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Can Corporate Social Responsibility Be a Differentiator for Community Banks?

wib-logoma_logoEKOS 
 
By John R. Hancock, Moss Adams LLP and Lorinda R. Rowledge, EKOS International

 

With a few exceptions, community banks lag behind both large banks and other industries in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability policies, strategy, goals, performance and reporting. None are fully realizing the potential that integrating CSR into their core business has to offer.Why is CSR important? And how can your bank develop a CSR road map and report?

 

According to IFC’s 2007 report Banking on Sustainability, which surveyed 120 financial institutions in 43 emerging markets regarding their adoption of CSR strategies, 74 percent of respondents reported a reduction in risk as a result of considering environmental and social issues. Another 48 percent noted improved access to international capital, 39 percent benefited from improved brand value and reputation, 35 percent developed new business and 26 percent benefited from improved community relations.

 

Most corporate leaders in other sectors today recognize that CSR is strategically relevant to their business. This is equally true in banking, where executives are now increasingly seeing CSR as an effective means of:
 

  • Assessing lending and investment risks
  • Protecting reputation and brand
  • Building loyalty among commercial and retail customers
  • Attracting new clients
  • Capturing savings from reduced operational costs
  • Attracting, engaging, and retaining employees
  • Fulfilling their responsibility as good corporate citizens

 

While many banks have long supported community activities, and several have initiatives to encourage recycling and reduce paper consumption, true leverage comes from integrating CSR into every aspect of the business. This includes business strategy, product and service offerings, risk assessment and lending policies, facilities management, governance, procurement and supplier management, HR practices, and corporate philanthropy.

 

Developing a plan for greater integration of CSR in the form of a CSR or sustainability road map together with a publicly shared CSR report are two major approaches that will move banks toward more successful implementation. Begin the process by defining your bank’s social, environmental, and economic impacts and opportunities, then specify your CSR strategy, goals, implementation plan, initiatives, and milestones. Here’s how the steps might look:
 

  • Commit to strategically managing CSR.
  • Develop a sustainability implementation road map, with goals, milestones and progress reviews.
  • Identify material CSR-related impacts, issues and opportunities.
  • Develop and implement key sustainability performance indicators.
  • Develop a CSR or sustainability report (may initially be internal only).
  • Capture your current success stories – what’s already happening that can be celebrated and built on.
  • Obtain assurance on sustainability assessment systems and data.
  • Integrate CSR into your core business through policies, strategies, and product and service offerings.
  • Improve internal CSR practices.
  • Engage stakeholders – employees, customers, shareholders, community members, local economic development offices, suppliers, etc.
  • Participate in the Global Alliance for Banking on Values and other relevant initiatives.
  • Drive both continuous and breakthrough improvement in CSR performance and outcomes.

 

These need not be done sequentially. Although the primary purpose of a CSR or sustainability report is to transparently communicate CSR impacts, risks, strategies and progress (or lack thereof) to stakeholders, it can also be a powerful organizing driver for strategic sustainability planning and implementation. The tangible goal of producing a CSR report serves as a catalyst to educate leaders and key organizational members, gather and analyze significant issues, assess which measurements are in place and which are needed, engage a cross-functional team in data gathering and analysis, engage the organization in developing strategy and goals, and develop the framework for monitoring progress against goals.

 

CSR reporting also serves as a platform for telling your story. Although most community banks discuss community involvement on their websites, and several publish facts about their environmental efforts, very few produce CSR reports. Two notable exceptions are Triodos Bank, the pioneer of sustainable banking over 30 years ago, and San Francisco-based WIB member New Resource Bank, which published its first report in 2013.

 

The first year or so of a sustainability initiative typically involves building the bank’s measurement system to ensure decisions and reporting are based on valid, accurate data. The latest guidelines released by the Global Reporting Initiative make reporting simpler and more targeted, encouraging companies to focus on those issues most material to their stakeholders rather than reporting on a laundry list of performance indicators. The guidelines now allow assurance evidence per indicator, which enables companies to choose to assure only the most significant indicators in their report. External assurance helps build credibility and trust, and this change in reporting expectations makes assurance more affordable and achievable for smaller companies.

 

Most community banks are failing to leverage CSR to accelerate new product and service offerings, deepen customer relationships and loyalty, stimulate business growth or attract and retain talented employees. For those that jump on board, there are many potential rewards.

 

Lorinda Rowledge is Cofounder and Partner of EKOS International, a strategic sustainability consulting firm.  She is passionate about the synergistic nexus of innovation, sustainability and employee, customer, and stakeholder engagement. Lorinda leads EKOS CSR Report Rapid Prototyping, Materiality Assessment, and Open Innovation/Crowdsourcing services.  She co-authored Mapping the Journey, a book featuring global businesses leading in the application of sustainability.  Lorinda holds a Ph.D., specializing in Organizational & Community Psychology.  She is a strategic advisor to CSRHub.com, a database that provides sustainability ratings data on 8,900+ companies worldwide.     Contact Lorinda: LRowledge@ekosi.com  and EKOS: www.EKOSi.com  
 
 

 John R. Hancock is partner with Moss Adams LLP (www.mossadams.com). He can be reached at 503-323-7386 or john.hancock@mossadams.com

 

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Harley-Davidson Signals Climate Change is Mainstream

By Carol Pierson Holding
 
What is going to solve climate change? To borrow terms from technology, a distributed motorcyclesolution is underway that has moved along the technology adoption curve and is already entering the mainstream.
 
We’ve watched this distributed solution take form for a while now. Government regulation, which lagged at the federal level, is enacted globally at the city and community levels. Individual power plants are switching from oil and coal to the lower-emissions solution, natural gas, on their own and without regulation. Corporate Social Responsibility, which was isolated in its own department, has in many companies been distributed across the enterprise, with CSR departments providing only specific support functions like competitive benchmarking, measurement and reporting.
 
How do we know our distributed solution has reached the mainstream? Harley-Davidson, whose brand is arguably nonexistent without a combustion engine, just introduced an electric motorcycle. The dominant brand in motorcycles, Harley sells 36% of all motorcycles sold in the U.S., including 52% of all on-highway bikes.  It has a well-entrenched formula for customer loyalty that includes its unique sound. That’s so important that the company tried to trademark it, only giving up in 2000 after six years of legal wrangling.
 
But Harley’s core customers are largely boomers so its average customer’s age — and as recently as 2010 its market share too — were declining.
 
The company needed to appeal to younger generations. It’s doing so with an electric motorcycle called the LiveWire.
 
How does a company capitalize on one of the most beloved parts of an electric vehicle, its silence, when your brand is synonymous with deafening noise? By creating a brand new sound. As Charles Fleming wrote in the Los Angeles Times’ last week —

 

“The (Livewire) debut marks a dramatic departure for the 110-year-old motorcycle company, which is hailed or hated for its powerful engines, loud exhaust pipes and brash rebel attitude. … It accelerates like a ballistic missile and sounds like a jet engine turbine.

 

As LiveWire designer Kirk Rasmussen said, “People get on this thinking ‘golf cart,’ but they get off it thinking ‘rocket ship.”” …That should appeal to younger male riders in particular, while the electric aspect should appeal to younger riders of both genders, who tend to be more sensitive to enviromental  (sic) matters.

 

There are many more dramatic innovations happening in emerging companies, like mushroom architecture described last week in Huffington Poststunning structures that grow themselves and are completely recyclable. But there are just as potentially meaningful changes in existing product lines from industry leaders, such as J.P. Morgan Chase’s bond funds for green projects.
 
Environmental efforts under the CSR rubric are also advancing. Most stunning for those of us who follow Apple Computer and its storied founder Steve Job’s rejection of social responsibility is new founder Tim Cook’s embrace of “better” ideas for reducing its environmental footprint. Stock market website SeekingAlpha reports on Apple’s change of heart:

 

The company was one of Greenpeace’s Do Not Buys for a long period of time. Yet in the past year Greenpeace has been applauding Apple for eliminating toxic materials, materials in conflict areas, and setting a bar in 2014 for climate leadership. The company is now using 100% renewable energy at all data centers, which is setting the bar in the tech space.

 

These solutions are most remarkable when you realize they are happening independently, across industries, across companies, even when the innovations appear to undercut a successful, established brand, as in the case of Harley-Davidson.
 
From companies to individuals to institutions, everyone seems to be a part of the distributed solution. Conservative government and business leaders advocate climate change action in a just released report “Risky Business.” Millennials are moving away from private car ownership. And Harleys may soon sound like jet engines…or nothing at all.

 

LiveWire photo courtesy of: Christine Cotter/The Orange County Register/ZUMAPRESS.com
 


 

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 8,900+ companies worldwide. Carol holds degrees from Smith College and Harvard University.

 

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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