CSR Insight Media Partner Announcement: Press Release and Event Listing

CSRI

ESG ISSUES ON THE BOARD AGENDA—

Regulatory and Investor Focus on Corporate ESG:

New and Upcoming Developments; Board and C-Suite Focus.

JUNE 24, 2014, 12:00pm-1:30pm ET

 

NEW YORK, NY – Global ESG Regulatory Academy™ and CSR Insight™ LLC are hosting an online, live, 90-minute Webinar event:  ESG Issues on the Board Agenda, June 24, 2014, featuring an exciting international roster of experts.  The Program provides a comprehensive Briefing and expert Commentary on key global ESG regulatory and market developments, and ESG reporting issues and challenges, that all Board and C-Suite executives should be considering NOW to respond to new regulatory requirements, new investor expectations, and new competitive pressures.  In addition, Speakers will reveal what is on the drawing board for ESG regulation and ESG capital market investment for the remainder of 2014.  A live Q&A will provide the opportunity to ask questions directly of the Speakers.

Registration is now open.  This event has limited capacity; early registration is recommended.  US$249 for U.S. registrants; US$259 for non-U.S. registrants; group registration discounts; 10% discount for CSRHub readers (Discount Code CSRH10refid0614).  All registrants, regardless of whether you attend the live Webinar, will receive the Webinar archived recording and all Speaker slide presentation materials to review at your leisure.

 

Event Summary:  http://www.cvent.com/d/64qx7p

Event Registration:  http://www.cvent.com/d/64qx7p/4W

Mobile Event Hub:  http://www.cvent.com/d/64qx7p/5C?dvce=2

Mobile Event Registration:  http://www.cvent.com/d/64qx7p/4W?dvce=2

 

Program and Speaker Summary:

 

TOPIC 1:  Increasing ESG Regulatory and Market Focus Around the World: New Developments and Initiatives—Speakers:

 

·         Linda Lowson, Esq., CEO, Global ESG Regulatory Academy™: Legal and Regulatory Developments Overview

§  New and emerging national securities regulation

§  New and emerging stock exchange listing requirements

§  Recent SEC developments

 

·         Alison Dempsey, Esq., Director of Research, Global ESG Regulatory Academy™: Market-Based Drivers Overview

§  Investor focus: institutional and active investor scrutiny

§  Voluntary reporting as the new baseline

 

·         Evan Harvey, Managing Director, Corporate Sustainability, The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

§  CERES Proposed Listing Standards

§  Sustainable Stock Exchange (SSE) Initiative Key Developments

§  World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) Sustainability Working Group Developments

 

TOPIC 2:  Increasing Investor Focus and Competitive Pressure:  Board Oversight; Shareholder Resolutions and Proxy Voting; New ESG Indices and Ratings—Speakers:

 

·         Peter DeSimone, Co-Founder, Deputy Director, Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2)

§  Board Oversight of ESG Issues:  Key Findings of April 2014 Report published by Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCI)

§  Shareholder resolutions and Proxy Voting:  Key Trends for the 2014 Proxy Season

 

·         Julia Kochetygova, Senior Director, Product Management, S&P Dow Jones Indices

§  Overview of Role of Sustainability Indices from Investor Perspective; Historical Phases and Recent Trends.

§  What New Sustainability Indices Mean for Boards.

§  Conceptual Framework for New S&P Dow Jones ESG Tilted Indices.

 

TOPIC 3:  Increasing Risk: New Financial Reporting Challenges—Speaker:

 

·         Cecilia Thorn, Head of International Relations, Financial Reporting Council

§ 2014 EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive: Reporting Requirements and Impacts.

§  Forthcoming European Commission’s ESG/CSR Initiatives on the Drawing Board for 2014.

 

Previous Global ESG Regulatory Academy™ Webinar Series recordings are now available for a very limited time on demand at a discount, with all Speaker slide presentations.

 

·         WINTER 2014 ANNUAL WRAP-UP: ESG Regulatory and Voluntary Reporting: Most Important 2013 Developments, Radar 2014, and Key Policy Issues

·         FUTURE OF ESG REPORTING AND KEY ACTORS: What You Need to Know About ESG Regulatory and Voluntary Reporting.

·         SEC ESG COMPLIANCE—Where the Rubber Meets the Road: SEC ESG Requirements, Liabilities, and Challenges for Public Companies, Boards, Auditors, and Asset Owners and Managers.

For Registration, Speaker, and Sponsor Queries:  Contact Linda Lowson, Esq., HERE.

About the Global ESG Regulatory Academy™:

The Global ESG Regulatory Academy™ provides the first-ever independent professional education on global ESG regulation, ESG regulatory and voluntary reporting, and ESG capital market issues.  The Global ESG Regulatory Academy™ also provides customized, on-site educational seminars and workshops for companies, boards, asset owners and managers, and NGOs.  Its parent company, CSR Insight™ LLC, founded in 2007, completed a comprehensive 5-year, US$5.5 million Global ESG Regulatory and Capital Market Research Program to develop the Knowledge Base content foundation for this unique, important, and sophisticated professional education.

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MEDIA PARTNERS:

CSRwire, G&A, CSRHub

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Newsweek’s Green Rankings Is Back

By Bahar Gidwani

 

After an eighteen month break, Newsweek has re-launched its Green Rankings.  NewsweekOn June 5, it issued new ratings for the 809 companies that are on either the US 500 or Global 500 lists. The Green Rankings list is likely to continue to draw attention to corporate social responsibility performance and we are glad to have it back. We hope that Newsweek will continue to publish and promote work in this area.

 

Over the past few years, Newsweek’s Green Rankings had become one of the best known corporate CSR rating metrics partly because of its simplicity (everyone likes a top to bottom ranking) and because Newsweek’s large circulation put it in front of millions of ordinary consumers.

 

For several reasons we explain below, the Newsweek Rankings may not be a good benchmarking or best practices discovery tool for the sustainability professional.  In fact, as in past years, the new rankings are likely to continue to generate anxiety and confusion, as we all try to puzzle out and decode the signals they offer on how the world’s largest companies are performing. 

 

Newsweek’s methodology for calculating the ratings has changed several times.  This year’s revamp is pretty radical.  The initial data set for the 2014 list was supplied by Bloomberg and RepRisk.  Bloomberg captures a wide range of environment, social, and governance (ESG) from company financial disclosures, sustainability reports, and other public documents.  Bloomberg also ingests data from CDP—formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project—on carbon and water-related issues.  RepRisk has one of the world’s largest databases of corporate risk information.  Newsweek arranged for Corporate Knights, a well-respected Canadian research firm, to review these data sets.  It also sent a survey to 775 of the 809 companies. It is interesting that they could only find contact info for 95% of these very large companies—and that only 363 of them or 45% of the sample set responded.  Corporate Knights may also have consulted some of the other data sources it has available, such as MSCI’s Intangible Value Assessment (IVA) and Thomson Reuters Asset4 databases.

 

The 2012 Newsweek list included data from Sustainalytics—a full service ESG ratings firm—and Trucost—one of the leading suppliers of carbon, water, and other environmental information.  The 2012 list dropped an interesting and deep source of CSR data that was in the 2011 list—expert opinions on CSR performance that had been gathered by Corporate Register. The 2012 list had a strong emphasis on environmental performance, driven perhaps by a desire to make the list a “Green” ranking.  For the 2014 list, Corporate Knights decided to explicitly include corporate risk, board involvement, management compensation, and credit for outside assurance to its criteria.

We have ingested most of the sources from both years’ methodologies into our database, including RepRisk, Trucost, Asset4, CDP, and MCSI’s IVA.  As do many of the 300+ sources we studied, Corporate Knights studied the publicly-disclosed information that Bloomberg collects.  So, we would expect to see a fairly high correlation between our ratings (which measure the overall perceived sustainability performance of companies) and Newsweek’s scores.  The chart below shows that we had a 35% correlation between our scores and the Green Ranking scores, for the 2014 US data.

 

2014 Newsweek ratings correlation to CSRHub ratings

 

Interestingly, this year’s ratings for the US 500 seem somewhat less correlated with our overall ratings than they were in the past.

 

2012 Newsweek ratings

 

We believe these factors may have driven this shift:

 

    • The old index gave more weight to environmental issues than the new one does.  Environment is probably the most/best studied area within corporate social responsibility.  As a result, there is less variation among expert opinions within the environmental area than with other parts of CSR such as employee, community, or governance performance.  There was a 55% correlation between the 2012 Newsweek rating (based on an average of their four reported subcategories) and our Environment category rating (which includes climate change, transparency/reporting, and resource management issues).  There was only a 25% correlation between Newsweek’s ratings and our Environment category in 2014.
       
      Newsweek ratings correlation to CSRHub environment ratings

 

    • The new ratings methodology includes a penalty for “disclosure.” Rather than trying to fill in missing items, Corporate Knights decided in 2014 to penalize companies that fail to disclose a required item.  CSRHub has so much data that it is generally able to automatically fill data gaps. This methodological difference may have introduced a new source of variation between our ratings and reduced the correlation between them.

 

    • The CSRHub database has grown substantially since 2012.  We currently have 53 million data points and cover 9,000 companies in 102 countries.  In 2012, we had only 13 million data points and covered only 6,500 companies in 83 countries.  As we add more information to our system, it is natural that our correlation with any individual and more limited data source, will drop.

 

As with any rating system, we could find fault with some of the individual results within the Newsweek Green Rankings.  For instance, Campbell Soup has a 67 overall rating in CSRHub.  This puts it third in the list of 216 food companies that we track.  Campbell supports BCCCC, CECP, and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition.  It was on Corporate Knight’s own Global 100 list in both 2013 and 2014.  But, Campbell gets only a 39.6% score in the Green Rankings system.

 

Inconsistencies between rating systems reinforce the need for corporate sustainability managers to focus on broad measures of performance that are stable across industries, geographies and time. Again, we applaud Newsweek for raising awareness of sustainability across a wide audience. Professionals in the field should feel free to use CSRHub data dating back to 2008 to get an independent perspective on the hundreds of sustainability metrics that are produced each year.

 


 

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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Cross Atlantic Big Data CSR Partnership

center for corp           Sustainability Ratings

 

CSRHub is pleased to announce the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance (CCEG), based in UK, to develop their mutual interests in using Big Data in social impact measurement. CSRHub has aggregated the world’s largest database of corporate sustainability information. CCEG is driving an international programme around their Social Earnings Ratio (S/E) to capture empirical CSR data through a wiki-university approach as well as automation through cloud computing.

 

Initial joint programs will center around a burgeoning social innovation marketplace that has been created through legislative drivers in Europe and Asia, and an inter-university program in the USA that will measure the  social impact in a multitude of niche sectors represented through ‘top 100’ ranking league tables. If you are interested in furthering the use of Big Data to change organizational behaviour, or have sectors you want measured free of charge, please contact CSRHub.

 


 

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 300+ 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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SASB Launches Its First Pilot Program

By Bahar Gidwani

 

At a meeting earlier this week, The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) sasbannounced that it was launching what it calls its “Corporate Roundtable.”  It hopes to get ten large companies to join the Roundtable over the next few months.  These companies will then use the materiality standards that SASB has developed to upgrade their public disclosure documents.

 

The first company to join the program is NASDAQ OMX.  As part of running one of the world’s largest stock exchanges, NASDAQ employs 3,000+ people and operates at least eleven facilities.  It will be fascinating to see SASB’s guidance tested in real life by a company that is deeply involved in a host of regulatory and reporting activities.

 

The International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC) started its pilot program in 2011.  We track the companies in this program (and the companies who have supported SASB by joining its working groups).  We were pleased to see that the average ratings for both the IIRC pilot companies (61) and for the SASB working group companies (57) were well above the average for all CSRHub-rated companies (51).  This confirms our view that companies who are actively engaged in understanding and implementing integrated reporting are “ahead of the curve” overall in their sustainability performance.

 

Let us know if you think your company might be interested in joining the Corporate Roundtable.  SASB is actively recruiting new participants and seems willing to provide workshops and other types of training support, to help its pilot companies through the implementation process.

 


 

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 103 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 300+ 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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Investors Could Drive Real Fossil Fuel Investment Retreat

By Carol Pierson Holding

 

The sustainable investing community has a saying that their greatest achievement will be Wall Streetto put themselves out of business. The fossil fuel divestment movement could say the same: when fossil fuel companies stop their relentless drilling and all assets currently held in reserves are abandoned, drivers of the movement will be looking for work.

 

The way things are going with fossil fuel companies, we might be able to halt the divestment movement sooner than we think.

 

Last week’s news seemed to show the market moving towards an acceptance of climate change’s negative impact on corporate earnings — and a rejection of fossil fuel investments on purely financial terms.

 

On Wednesday, the Obama administration’s National Climate Assessment, was reported in the Wall Street Journal under the headline “Climate Change Is Harming US Economy, Report Says.” The story does not question the report or offer conflicting scientific opinions, but points specifically to greenhouse gases from energy production as the cause:

 

The congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment…says…that it isn’t too late to implement policies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, and calls on governments at all levels to find ways to lower carbon emissions, particularly from energy production.

 

That’s from The Journal, probably the most fiercely pro-business publication around.

 

But even more astonishing is the story in Forbes “Fossil Fuel-Free Index Will Help Investors Manage Climate Risks.” While the article says the fund, the FTSE Developed ex-Fossil Fuels Index Series, is aimed mainly at universities and public institutions, it does acknowledge —

 

“(The) concept of carbon stranded assets pioneered by the Carbon Tracker initiative contends that fossil fuel companies are overvalued by stock markets because their valuations include assets that cannot be exploited if we are to avoid runaway climate change. …Carbon Tracker sheds further light on the risks, (in its) report… Carbon Supply Cost Curves. Evaluating Financial Risk To Oil Capital Expenditures, setting out the assets most likely to be stranded and the companies best placed to adapt to a low carbon future.”

 

That Report calls out oil sands, Arctic and deepwater exploration as terrible investments.

 

Carbon Tracker’s website describes magical thinking in the fossil fuel industry: “Exxon saying there is no risk does not constitute prudent management of shareholder funds – it’s like King Canute assuming he can hold back the tide, but investors can see that a shift in energy is already coming in.”

 

That’s language you’d expect from activists. But Forbes, that bastion of conservatism, joins in the bashing in choosing to quote analyst Mark Lewis of Europe’s leading broker Kepler Cheuvreux: “The oil industry’s increasingly unsustainable dynamics – as manifested, for example, by ongoing capex (capital expenditure) reductions amid record-high oil prices – mean that stranded-asset risk exists even under business-as-usual conditions: high oil prices will encourage the shift away from oil towards renewables (whose costs are falling) while also incentivising (sic) greater energy efficiency.”

 

Forbes notes that with BlackRock — the world’s largest asset manager — participating in the fund, the anti-fossil fuel movement has gone mainstream.

 

Mainstream? From a reporter at Forbes, whose self-reported audience statistics place its readers at higher levels of wealth and power than any other business publication, is calling the FTS ex-Fossil Fuel Index a welcome first step in making the idea of a world without fossil fuels a mainstream notion?

 

Now that’s progress.

 

Of course there is still enormous weight on the other side of the argument. Fossil fuel companies recognize the threat to their business in the massive shifts in capital that are coming and are determined to get every last bit out of the ground ASAP. Even here in the hyper-environmental Pacific Northwest, the Black Diamond coal mine is reopening after 15 years and proposed coal ports refuse to die.

 

But there is growing evidence that fossil fuels are just a dumb investment. As stated in a recent report by HIP Investor, “Since 2011, the global energy sector has diverged from the S&P 500 for the first time in a decade, and dramatically lagged the S&P 500. The Coal Index (KOL) is down 28% since late 2011, and the Oil & Gas Index (BGR) is down 8% as well.”

 

I see the day coming when investors who hold fossil fuel stocks will be derided for poor money management. The smart money? Managers who bought renewable energy stocks early.

 

Image courtesy of  thetaxhaven 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 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 300+ 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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