Do Data Management Tools Improve Perceived Sustainability Performance?

By: Bahar Gidwani

Part 1 of a 2-part series.

 

Many companies use manual systems to collect data on and manage their sustainability programs.  However, a growing number are using software tools that were professionally-developed for this purpose.  In this study, CSRHub partnered with French software company Tennaxia, to study the perceived sustainability performance for fourteen of its customers.

 

Tennaxia offers a wide range of employee health and safety (EHS), environmental tracking and reporting (ETR), and corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting solutions to hundreds of corporations.  Its clients operate in 70 countries.  CSRHub provides sustainability information on more than 13,000 companies in 104 countries.  CSRHub’s ratings and metrics are drawn from more than 360 sustainability data sources.

 

We believed there could be a correlation between a company’s sustainability performance and its use of specialized data management software.  We hypothesized that:

 

A. CSRHub should be able to rate the sustainability performance of most of Tennaxia’s customers.  CSRHub includes data from sources such as Wall Street analyst firms, non-governmental organizations, government agencies, and crowd-driven ratings groups.  It seemed reasonable that companies who were willing to invest in installing and operating Tennaxia software would share the data they gathered with our sources—who in turn would share their views of the data with us.

 

B. Tennaxia’s customers would have generally high sustainability ratings.  Again, it seemed reasonable to assume that companies who are interested in collecting and analyzing their sustainability information would also take steps to improve their social performance.  We have no way of knowing which companies use external tools to help manage their sustainability data.  If a company does buy external tools, we don’t know which vendor they buy from.  This data is normally not disclosed by vendors or by their customers.  However, we do believe that a large majority of the 10,000 companies we currently track in CSRHub’s system do not have formal software tools in place.

 

C. The strongest ratings areas for Tennaxia’s customers would be those where its software collects and manages data.  Tennaxia’s product suite includes programs for managing suppliers, tracking employee issues such as health, safety, and diversity, and reporting on environment, social, and governance-related metrics.  These are areas that are often reported, externally through government filings, CSR reports, or frameworks such as CDP, GRI, and the UN Global Compact.

 

Background

 

A recent survey by Rescore (Effective CSR Data Management) found that 78% of major organizations currently have or plan to add EHS and CSR-tracking software.


 

Organizations Currently or

Planning to Track CSR/EHS Data

 

 

 

 

Source: ReScore Surveys & Interviews

 

Despite this intention to use software, a majority of the 50 companies Rescore surveyed use Excel spreadsheets to track their data.  This situation has not changed much, over the past three years.

 

CSR Data Management Tools

Used: 2011, 2014

 

 

 

Source: Accenture (2011) and ReScore Surveys &

Interviews (2014)

 

It seems likely either that:

  • Corporate sustainability managers are not convinced about the value of EHS and CSR Data management systems; or
  • Sustainability managers have not been able to convince senior management of theircompanies of this software’s value.

 

While more than 20 software companies produce EHS and CSR Data systems, none of them dominate these markets.  Only about half of the installed systems have been integrated with overall corporate management systems.

 

Share of Specialized Systems

that have the Ability to Integrate with

Other Corporate Systems

 

 

 

Source: ReScore Benchmarking Research

 

One argument for investing in EHS and CSR Data software, and for integrating it into overall corporate management systems, would be that doing so would improve a company’s perceived sustainability performance.  Our study is a first step towards demonstrating this connection.

 

The results from our study will continue in our next post.

 

 

About CSRHub and Tennaxia

 

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 13,700+ companies from 135 industries in 104 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 360 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.

 

Tennaxia provides customized cloud-based software and services to help companies manage EHS Compliance and Sustainability Data.  Over 5,000 locations, in 70 countries across multiple languages, rely on Tennaxia to streamline business processes, reducing costs and risks. Configurable to any framework or KPI, Tennaxia’s turnkey solution achieves nearly 100% client retention. With 13 years track record advancing European corporations, Tennaxia is now pleased to offer its customizable solutions to U.S. customers.  For more information including case studies:

http://www.trianagroup.com/tennaxia/

http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/ict_big_data/millie_lapidario/us_companies_can_do_more_excel_csr_data

 

 


 

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.

 

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CSRHub CEO Bahar Gidwani Speaking at Sustainable Brands Smarter Metrics Webinar

CSRHub CEO and Co-founder Bahar Gidwani will be speaking at Sustainable Brands Sustainable BrandsSmarter Metrics Webinar, How to Collect, Manage and Report on Sustainability Date More Effectively on January 20, 2015 at 10-11 am Pacific Time.

 

Speakers include:

Bernard Fort, CEO, Tennaxia
Bahar Gidwani, Co-founder & CEO, CSRHub
Eli Reisman, Product Manager, SASB
Deborah Stern, Founder & CEO, 2020 Strategies [Moderator]

 

 What You Will Learn

  • Market trends and benchmarking regarding various CSR data management tools
  • What SASB, GRI and other experts recommend
  • The ROI for utilizing data management systems for improving CSR performance
  • Best practices for considering a CSR/Sustainability data management system

 

Tennaxia

 

Learn more and register here today:

Register

 

 

 

 

 


 

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 the world’s largest corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information, covering over 13,000 companies from 135 industries in 104 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 370 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.

 

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

 

 

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China’s New Economic Dominance May Offer Silver Lining to Environmentalists

By: Carol Pierson Holding

China pollution

 

The International Monetary Fund declared that the GDP of China has, as expected but ahead of forecasts, surpassed the GDP of the United States. MarketWatch called it a “major economic earthquake” that will “change almost everything in the longer term.”

 

This news has been predicted since last April, and yet it will take a while for reality to sink in. NPR travel commentator Rick Steves wrote an opinion piece in Sunday’s Seattle Times in which he stated an assumption most of us have held our entire lives and take great pride in: “There’s no question that, economically, we are firmly established on top of the world.”

 

But so what if we’re not number one? Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz writes in January’s Vanity Fair that economically we might end up better off. And that China probably will not crow about its achievement — “China (does) not want to stick its head above the parapet.” Wanting to be #1 is a distinctly American attitude.

 

Stiglitz says that the real danger is in losing our influence. In his words, “The bedrock strength of the U.S. has always rested less on hard military power than on ‘soft power’; most notably its economic influence.” The U.S. has used this soft power to lead international bodies such as the World Bank and the G20 “to pursue the economic interests of its multinationals, including its big banks.”

 

Those driving our economic interests have not addressed climate change with the urgency it deserves. Stiglitz calls out both American and Chinese roles in increasing carbon emissions and other forms of ecological degradation. Until the recent U.S./China climate deal, the U.S. has repeatedly denied the urgency of climate change, refused to sign treaties and retreated from funding global efforts at remediation.

 

Now that China can claim economic leadership, will it use its influence to lead environmental policy as well?

 

Harvard Business School (HBS) professor William Kirby believes China will step up. In an article for Working Knowledge, HBS staffer Christian Camerota cites Kirby’s staggering statistics for pollution in China: “Between 70 and 90 percent of the country’s flora was endangered by 2008, and by 2013, around 80 percent of its major rivers were so debased that they no longer supported aquatic life. The strain (imposed by economic growth) is manifesting as sinking cities, shrinking reefs, wilting crops, and diminishing water supplies.”

 

As Kirby told Camerota, “Pollution is tolerable when it’s accompanied by economic growth, and that’s why the (Chinese) government has been so successful at doing much of what it wants with the landscape of China to date. But I think between man-made pollution and the degradation of the natural environment, we’ve reached a tipping point, where the government has an obligation to reverse course.”

 

All indications are that Chinese society will not only support the leadership’s environmental efforts but push them to go farther. Across China, in hundreds of protests just in 2014, local residents, including peasants, academics and middle class families have marched against existing polluters and companies that proposed to put human health at risk.

 

Kirby goes on to explain another reason why Chinese society supports environmental remediation: “Nowhere in the world is the concept of family stronger than in China, and I think they will take that heavy responsibility very seriously. … A bettered natural environment would ensure healthier citizens and longer-term prosperity.”

 

China’s new economic leadership may usher in a new era of climate and environmental effort. In fact, China might end up becoming the global leader we’ve been hoping for. China might even use its economic power to force the US to match its environmental progress. And wouldn’t that be ironic!

 

 

Photo courtesy of Leo Fung 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 10,000+ companies worldwide. Carol holds degrees from Smith College and Harvard University.

 

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 10,000+ companies from 135 industries in 104 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 365 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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Six Events That Tilt the Economy to Favor the Planet

By Carol Pierson Holding

 

When we hear about the recent Federal spending bill cuts to environmental initiatives, weHurricane Ridge Valley can’t help but think of the potential disaster when climate denying forces really take power next year. We might yearn for just a little bit of good news to ring in the New Year.
 
Here are the six economic events of 2014 that promise to reduce carbon emissions regardless of grid lock in Washington DC:

 

1.  The price of solar and wind energy has fallen below the price of conventional fuels, pushing utilities to switch to alternative fuels.

 

The New York Times reports that “The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.” Even if the new U.S. Congress removes current subsidies, the price advantage of alternative energy is still competitive. Even rooftop solar—more expensive per installed watt than utility-scale solar—is on track to match retail electricity within two years, according to Deutsche Bank. In the U.S., the utility giant NRG promised to cut its carbon pollution in half by 2030 and by 90 percent by mid-century. Germany’s largest utility is getting out of fossil fuel business altogether.

 

2.   Utilities are investing in energy storage, the last impediment to distributed energy.

 

Climate Solutions’ ClimateCast reports that in mid-November, Southern California Edison (SCE) entered into a 20-year power-purchase agreement with AES Energy Storage to build the world’s largest electrochemical battery. Other utilities are also exploring storage technologies: Oncor Electric Delivery Co. of Dallas has expressed interest in investing more than $2 billion in a battery storage system for Texas.

 

3.   Chinese coal demand is falling fast, reducing incentives to ship U.S. coal overseas.

 

Chinese customs statistics show that the nation’s coal imports fell 26 percent year-over-year in November. (This link above is to a page in Chinese, but can be read with Google Translate.) At the same time, seaborne coal prices have plummeted. As the Northwest environmental website Sightline notes, “China has started to radically reshape its relationship with coal, in ways that are radically undermining the bullish case for the seaborne coal market.” That is why Northwest coal export terminals are facing such severe struggles finding new investors.

 

4.   Utilities are getting into the EV Charging Business, potentially obliterating the range argument against alternative-fuel cars.

 

As reported in GreenTechMedia, alternative fueled transportation scored advances as California regulators allowed utilities to enter the electric-car-charging business. As regulators consider lifting the 2011 ban, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric plan $500 million in infrastructure investment.

 

5.   Sustainable investing is “an unstoppable train,” providing capital for renewable energy and other emission-reducing schemes.

 

This year, sustainable investing is capturing $1 of every $6 of Assets under management (AUM).  That’s $6.57 trillion in assets, or 18 percent of the U.S. total. The rate of growth is impressive – up 79% since 2012. Investor demand is so high that it pushed Bloomberg to integrate its Sustainability or ESG (Environmental, social, governance) data into its financial data on 320,000 Bloomberg Professional screens.

 

6.   Congress may be headed toward a climate-denying majority, but otherwise conservative businesses are becoming more vocal in its support of climate action.

 

A holiday email from the Sierra Club counted 98 corporations that have left ALEC, the association of state legislators and corporate members, including the tech firms Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Yelp. Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt was particularly adamant that funding ALEC was a mistake. “We should not be aligned with such people. They are just literally lying,” Schmidt told NPR’s Diane Rehm in reference to ALEC’s teaching climate change denial.

 

It’s all enough to restore your faith in capitalism isn’t it?  Here’s to a great 2015!!

 

Photo courtesy of  Carol Pierson Holding.

 

 


 

 

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 10,000+ companies worldwide. Carol holds degrees from Smith College and Harvard University.

 

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 10,000+ companies from 135 industries in 104 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 365 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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What About the Future?

By Bahar Gidwani

part 3 of a 3-part series

 

CSRHub recently released many new web features and an important new Excel-based tool, CSRHub Dashboard, to serve our 14,000 members. These changes are in response to our members asking us to give them more control over the data, with the ability to get granular details, access to both ratings and rankings, and a way to bring our data to their desktops via commonly-used tools such as a spreadsheet.

 

We have been updating the site about twice a year since our launch in late 2010.  We’ve also been adding new sources (now up to 365) and new companies (we have data on more than 10,000 companies in 104 countries).  However, this release took CSRHub to a new level.  We now offer the most comprehensive database of sustainability information in the world, and have become a core tool for a wide range of sustainability research.

 

As we look ahead over the next two years, we hope to offer our members even more:

 

  • Expand our coverage to include data on more than 50,000 organizations. Much is known about the sustainability performance of the world’s 1,000 largest companies.  Most of them have permanent, professional sustainability staff who create CSR reports, use the GRI standard, send data to CDP, and encourage their companies to commit to the UN Global Compact.  But, while the world’s top companies contribute a lot to the world’ economy, there are millions of other public companies, private companies, not for profits and government organizations who contribute much more.  To change the corporate and organizational social behavior of these firms, we need to provide them with relevant sustainability data through tools such as CSRHub and our new Dashboard.  We already have some data on about 140,000 smaller organizations.  We hope to add enough new data to bring at least 40,000 of these firms into public view.
     
    Big Data

 

  • Continue to add new sources. We plan to integrate more data from certification groups, supply chain software firms, and government organizations.  These sources collect data on both big companies and on thousands of smaller companies and organizations.  We also plan to ingest “crowd” data based on “semantic analysis” into our system.
     
    Crowd Data

 

  • Integrate our data into more tools and applications. More than 60 organizations have signed up to use the CSRHub Specification for REST Access (CSRA).  The use data from this “API” to improve how consumers purchase products, candidates pick the right job, and sustainability practitioners find the right “best practice” to fix a problem.  Our partners follow many different business models and reside on six of the seven continents (we don’t have partners yet in Antarctica!).  We expect soon to see hundreds of developers using our simple, cheap source of sustainability data.

 

 

  • Help our users find sustainability-related tools and products.  We already offer access to more than 100,000 reports from a wide range of sources.  But, we need to do a better job of bringing together tools, reports, and resources and tying them to specific “use cases.”  We plan to launch a “store” that may help with this.  It will contain sections for each use case we serve.  And, it will have a page for each company we track and will show which products are available to do research on that company.

 

As you can see, we have a lot of work ahead of us.  As a B Corporation, we are dedicated to both making money and to using transparent access to corporate sustainability information to help change corporate social responsibility performance.  We believe we are contributing value to our users—and that our value is growing.  Our new higher subscription price will help us generate more cash that we can use to help achieve our ambitious goals.

 

Please let us know if you support our goals and agree with our longer-range plan.  Your feedback and support have helped us tremendously.  Thanks.

 

Part 1
What’s New at CSRHub? A lot!

Part 2
CSRHub Dashboard

 

 

 


 

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 the world’s largest corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information, covering on 10,000 companies from 135 industries in 104 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 365 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.

 

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

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