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Frequently Asked Questions About CSR
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What is CSRHub? CSRHub is a free website and tool that provides social, environmental, community and governance ratings on most major companies in North America, Europe and Asia. We are the first company to combine data from nine of the premier socially responsible investment (SRI) analysis firms (also known as Environment, Social, Governance - ESG), and over 190 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), government agencies, news feeds, social networking groups, smaller for-profit organizations, and publishers. Our proprietary tools combine more than twenty million pieces of data on sustainability and CSR performance into a consistent set of ratings. We then allow users to personalize these ratings, share them, and add their own views on companies. Our site enables users to learn about and compare company sustainability and CSR behavior. While there is no charge for much of our ratings information, we provide additional information to fee-paying subscribers and sell custom reports as well.
Who started CSRHub? Our three co-founders are Cynthia Figge, Bahar Gidwani, and Stephen Filler. We have worked for more than five years on this project. Cynthia Figge, President and COO, cofounded one of the first consultancies integrating sustainability and corporate strategy in 1996, and brings many years of experience tracking corporate responsibility. Bahar Gidwani, CEO, previously CEO of Index Stock Imagery, has built and run Web-based and technology-based businesses. Co-founder and Advisor Stephen Filler is an attorney who specializes in intellectual property and business law, and is currently Director of Business Development for a solar energy company. Cynthia and Bahar both hold Harvard MBAs and Bahar is also a CFA.
What is CSRHub’s goal and purpose? There has been no easy way for consumers and businesses to discover how companies perform and compare on sustainability and CSR issues. This makes it hard for people to make socially responsible decisions about what to buy, where to work, whom to do business with, and which companies to support or not support. CSRHub brings leading information about corporate social performance into one place so businesses, NGOs, online publications, social networking sites, and individuals can use CSRHub’s information to understand, share, discuss, and track the CSR and sustainability performance of companies.
Why did you choose the name CSRHub and spell it as one word, rather than as CSR Hub? We considered many names for our site—in fact we spent a year and a half under a different name—EkoHub. From the beginning, we liked the word “Hub” as we felt it reflected our desire to be at the center of the CSR and sustainability area. We also understood that a hub held the wheel together, but that it didn’t actually meet the road! So, we would be a tool for those who were doing the hard work in this area, rather than a tool for doing the work, itself. Our first prefix of “Eko” is related to both economy and ecology. However, many people tried to spell it “eco” and got confused. We considered ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) and several other similar terms from the reporting space. In the end, we decided that CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) was the best umbrella to cover the many different aspects of social behavior that we wanted to cover. We considered separating our name into two parts, but we wanted to indicate that we were taking an integrative and holistic approach. We considered either having the first part, the second part, or the last two letters in lower case. But, we felt that all parts of what we do—and all the communities we serve—were equal. We decided to change our capitalization to CSRHub, so that people don’t think our name rhymes with “shrub!” We may also launch other products with related names such as ESGHUB or CitizenHub.
What is the CSRHub schema? CSRHub overall ratings are based on four categories: Environment, Employees, Community, and Governance categories. Each category has three subcategories. Environment – Environmental Policy and Reporting, Energy and Climate Change, Resource Management; Employees: Diversity and Labor Rights, Compensation and Benefits, Training Health and Safety; Community – Community Development and Philanthropy, Human Rights and Supply Chain, Product; Governance – Leadership Ethics, Board, Transparency and Reporting. Review Our data schema for more information.
How are ratings calculated? CSRHub takes information from its data sources and transforms it into a 0 to 100 scale. We then weight the data sources, aggregate their scores, and then adjust them so that they fit together smoothly.
What is better, a higher or lower rating? CSRHub takes information from its data sources and transforms it into a 0 to 100 scale. The higher the rating the better, with 100 as the best rating.
Why can I only lock two of my profile categories? The four primary categories comprise one hundred percent of a company’s rating, so the total of your choices cannot exceed the maximum value of 12. You can set the value for the two categories that are most important to you, lock them, and then adjust the remaining two values within the pre-set limit.
If I change my profile emphasis from 3 to 4, does it have the same effect as if I change it from 4 to 5? No. Profile changes are non-linear. Changes in the middle of the score range (between 2 and 4) have less effect on your overall scores than changes at the ends. The curves used to make these adjustments are based on our analysis of how much company scores vary for each category and how far our users tend to push their preference settings. We give more effect to profile changes when there is more variation in the behavior of companies in a particular area or when our users tend to be less extreme in their views.
How does my profile affect my scores? When you make one of the four categories of environment, employees, community and governance more important, you increase the effect of that category’s scores on the overall scores you see. The base category scores remain the same, but your personal overall score for each company increases or decreases. Setting special issues will also affect your scores. (See below.) You can read more about our schema on this page. Watch a brief video on this topic at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qgys61GHqRo.
How do I use the logic function in advanced search? The logic function enables users to specify their preferences. To search for companies with an exact score only (e.g. 65), use “=”. If you’d like to find companies with a specific or higher rating, use “>=” (e.g. 65 and up) and for a specific rating or lower “<=” (e.g. 65 and lower). “<” and “>” will exclude the value you enter and only give you lower and higher values (e.g. 64 and lower or 66 and higher). Watch a brief video on this topic at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9yqIVFQCUk.
What are special issues? Some issues don’t fall into our four category structure. For instance, whether or not a company tests its products on animals, does business in Burma, or is a good place for women to work may not be directly covered by ratings on a company’s governance, labor relations, etc. Special issues are things you feel especially strongly about. You can choose to make their presence in a company a positive thing (e.g., you could upgrade companies that support unions), a negative thing (e.g., you could downgrade the ratings of companies that are against the NRA), or drop the ratings entirely for those companies who are involved in an area you feel strongly about. If you choose “exclude” for a special issue, a company that has this issue will show no rating. It will also be taken out of the ratings for its geography and industry. This reflects the fact that some of our users feel so strongly about special issues that they are uncomfortable with seeing any rating for these companies. Watch a brief video on this topic at www.youtube.com/watch?v=i37oB7TmQic.
What is a Saved Screen? A saved screen saves your search logic and results.
How do I save a Screen? After you have applied your search logic, you may “Save or Load a Search Screen”. Watch a brief video on this topic.
Does a Saved Screen retain my search list results? Saving a screen saves the logic of the search. If the data base changes, the results will change, but the saved search process stays the same. You can set up whatever you want to see and then run the same query consistently, each time.
What are the benefits of registering on CSRHub? If you register, you can create your own personal profile. Or, you can “borrow” profiles from other people—either by having them send their profile to you or by looking for interesting profiles using our profile search feature. Registered users can save an unlimited number of profiles—and can switch back and forth freely between them. Registered users can also save lists of companies—and can share these lists with others. You also need to be registered before you can control which ads you see on the site and before you can post comments on the site’s forums. Once you are registered, you can change the layout of your company lists. You can also save searches—a big help, if you are regularly monitoring a certain area.
What are the benefits of subscribing to CSRHub? Subscribers get to see more information on each company in our database. In particular, they can see twelve subcategory ratings (instead of four category ratings). This allows our subscribers to better judge the behavior of companies they are interested in and to compare that behavior in more detail to the behavior of all companies in an industry or particular geography. For more informaton, please review our Products page at www.csrhub.com/content/our-products.
Can I get more information on a company I am interested in? You can get more information by subscribing to CSRHub. If you want even more information than is available to subscribers, you may want to consider buying a special report on a company from one of our data sources.
Your company names are sometimes different from what I expected. Why? We try to use the official name for each company. We then add all of the unofficial names, common names, and so on, to our system. Unfortunately, this is not a simple process and companies may change their name or merge with another company. Plus, we get our basic data from a variety of sources, and some of these sources abbreviate aggressively, remove punctuation, or force names into all caps or all lower case. Finally, certain languages have letters that don’t translate well into English (our base language). Be patient with us and send your suggestions on how to correct company names to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll research your input and try to update our database.
Are ratings evenly distributed? No. The average company rating is typically about 50. That is because in general, companies have a ways to go to become sustainable and socially responsible. You can read more about how we calculate ratings on our Methodology page.
How are the default profiles calculated? CSRHub regularly studies the profiles of all of its registered users and subscribers. We periodically calculate the average of all of our user profiles. This average is used to establish our CSRHub user average profile. We have also identified three more groups of profiles: Environment focused users set a high importance on Environment ratings and fairly similar importance for the other three rating categories; Governance focused users put Governance as most important with a small secondary emphasis on Employee issues; and Community-Employee focused users split emphasis between the Community and Employee categories. About 65% of the profiles established to date could be associated with one of these four groups—there are many other smaller sub groups, some of which are growing fairly rapidly.
Why should I create my own profile? Your profile reflects your view of the world. When you review company ratings using your own profile, you are seeing the relative social performance of companies from your own perspective. Once you have a profile, you can share it with your friends. They can then better understand your view of the world and (if they are CSRHub members) understand why your view of company social performance is different from theirs.
How can I see what other people’s profiles look like? If someone sends you their profile, you can click on the profile link and see their profile settings. You can also search for profiles. When you find one you are interested in, click on the link and see the settings. You can also accept/use a profile and see the settings in the top left profile status box that is on every page of the site.
Do the organizations I belong to support CSRHub? A large number of organizations plan to support CSRHub. Do a profile search for your organization’s name, and see if it appears on the search results list. If it does not, please ask the head of your organization to contact us at email@example.com. We will respond with details on our partnership program. An organization that does not want to join us as a partner can still create a “group profile” for its members. However, it will not have the ability to establish and maintain a forum for its members.
What do I do if I see information that is outdated or wrong? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will research your comment and try to fix the problem.
Why are some companies missing information on one of the four categories? Although we have more than 185 data sources and more than twenty million pieces of data, we don’t have every piece of data on every company. We report the information we have. Where we are missing details, we leave the information blank. This can sometimes distort the rating for a company.
Can I add a Special Issue that concerns me? Yes. However, we need to have sources for the data AND a number of members who are interested in the issue. Start by sending an email to email@example.com. Include your reasons for wanting to add the issue and links to any sources of information that you know of, on the issue. We will review this data and post your proposal on a special page in our forum. Based on the comments we receive (feel free to lobby!), we will periodically add (and drop) special issues from our list.
How can I help CSRHub? You can help in many ways. You can let us know what you think about the site, how you are using it, what we can improve, and specific concerns with the data.
Why are some companies missing from CSRHub? CSRHub mostly covers publicly-traded companies. This is because the kind of information we require to create our ratings is only provided by public companies. We plan to expand to cover private companies, government organizations, and not-for-profits.
How does CSRHub handle multi-nationals? Which country are they considered to belong to? In general, we try to assign multi-nationals to the country in which their headquarter is located. Some companies maintain two or more head offices in different countries. In these cases, we try to use the office location that was first established.
How does CSRHub handle companies that use flag of convenience countries as their domicile? Certain countries have tax and other regulations that make them attractive headquarter locations. In general, we assign companies to their official legal location.
Do parent corporations get credit for subsidiaries ratings on CSRHub? We generally do not “credit” a parent corporation with the sustainability-related activities of its subsidiaries. The parent-subsidiary issue is an important one in sustainability policy and practice. Subsidiaries often have dramatically different positions and performance on social issues from their parent company. In some cases, these differences are driven by history (an acquired company may seek to maintain its old management style), local customs (different countries have different CSR requirements), or by a corporate “laissez faire” approach to social standards. Further, some organizations may only allow a parent to join or to submit information, or may require that a company’s be headquartered in a certain geography.
Can I see the history of a company’s rating? Yes. Personal subscribers can see a chart that shows how a company’s ratings have changed over time. Professional subscribers can both see this chart AND roll back our system to the start of any month from today back to September 1, 2010. Roll back can only be done on personal profiles. (The date on our default profiles cannot be changed.) When a professional subscriber rolls back to an earlier time, she or he will see the correct historic overall rating (based on her or his profile setting) and the correct historic industry and country averages. Professional subscribers can share this historic data with other users, by saving a company list, setting the correct date on their profile, and hitting the share list button.
How do I Renew my subscription? To renew your subscription, first log in to the site. Go to My CSRHub from the menu, select My orders and subscriptions and look for Active subscriptions. Find your latest subscription and select Renew to the right.
How do I Cancel my subscription? To cancel your subscription, first log into the site. Click on the link at the top left under your user name (or go to http://www.csrhub.com/user). On this page you will see a My orders tab. You should be able to find your most recent order on this list. At the bottom of the page you will see your active subscription and a cancel button.
What is a flag? Flags are data sources that mention the company but do not add to its rating. If you place your cursor over a flag, you will see the popup: “The icons in this area link to sources that mention this company but do not offer an evaluation of its social performance.” There are several reasons these sources do not contribute to ratings. Sometimes the flag is a membership organization like CSRwire, Fortune 1000 list, BSR, etc. Sometimes the flag is an aged data source (Newsweek Green List 2009). Sometimes a flag is a source that does not allow us to use their actual rating (DJSI Global and Europe).
What info is available about the year a company first introduced corporate CSR initiatives? (of any kind) at corporate level? The best source for learning the exact dates that companies issued social responsibility reports is Corporate Register. They are one of our sources, but all we receive from them is an indication of how many times each company has reported. (As a subscriber, you can see this number for companies that are in Corporate Register’s system.) Since companies sometimes report more than once per year or skip years, this number is not an accurate way of estimating how long they have reported.
Should I use CSRHub data for making investment decisions?We built CSRHub to give access to sustainability data to corporate managers, researchers, activists, and those involved in non-governmental organizations. Investors have other, better options for obtaining the data they need. Note that CSRHub ratings are not "real time" - we update our information about once per month. Most investors need real time data. Further, we aggregate information to give a high-level view of social performance. Most investors want details they can tie to specific trends, investment themes, or client needs. While we allow our users to create lists of companies, we do not support upload of portfolios and we do not provide any share prices, return tracking, or investment performance analysis. A good investment decision should be based also on the past and expected future financial performance of a company. There are also considerations of risk and diversification involved in an investment decision that are not covered by our data.
What types of data sources does CSRHub use? We use data from Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) - also known as Environment, Social, Governance (ESG) analysis firms, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) such as foundations, associations, union groups, and activist groups, government databases, publications and research reports, and input from individual CSRHub users. You can see a full list of our sources on our Data Sources page found at www.csrhub.com/our_data_sources. You can click through to learn more about each source from this page, or click on the source icon on any company page that you visit.
How reliable is the data CSRHub uses? We find that our sources do not always agree with one another. However, in general, a company that ranks poorly on a certain aspect of social performance with one source will also rank poorly with other sources. Thanks to the large number of sources we use and the proprietary methods we use to process and adjust our data, we believe we capture most of the information our sources provide. As a result, our ratings are at least representative of the general state of knowledge about the social performance of the companies in our database and may represent the best-available information. Even so, we suggest that you contact a company or do your own additional research, before you take any social action against a company based on our ratings.
How does CSRHub give ratings when it has only a few sources?Our sources overlap with each other in thousands of places. This allows us to gauge the relative attitude of each source and adjust for their biases. As a result, when we have only a few sources available for a particular company, we can adjust those sources—based on all of our experience—and create ratings that are consistent and, we hope, fair. If the amount of data we have falls below a certain level, we do not publish a rating. There are approximately another 5,000 companies for whom we have partial information—but not enough to provide a rating. For more information on how we calculate ratings, please review the information on this page.
Who are CSRHub major data sources? Our major sources are listed and described on our Data Sources page.
Who are CSRHub major SRI/ESG data sources? Our major ESG sources include ASSET4 (Thomson Reuters), Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), EIRIS, Governance Metrics International (merged with Corporate Library), IW Financial, MSCI (RiskMetrics IVA and Impact Monitor), Trucost and Vigeo.
Why should I subscribe? Subscribing to CSRHub will give you access to an additional level of information detail on all of the 6,700+ companies we cover. If you have questions about the value of subscription, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, review our products.
What are partially rated companies on CSRHub? We have received data from about 200 sources on more than 100,000 companies and organizations. Eventually, we hope our system will allow us to publish ratings on all of these companies—and many hundreds of thousands of publicly-held companies, privately-held companies, not for profits, and government organizations. We have enough sources and data to provide full ratings across the four categories of data we track (Community, Employees, Environment, and Governance) for over 6,700 companies. For the rest of the companies in our system, we often have only one source of data on a company or information on only a few areas of a company’s sustainability performance. In several thousand cases, we believe this data is sufficient for us to publish partial ratings—data on one or more of our twelve subcategories. These partial ratings generally allow us to also provide at least one category rating for these partially rated companies. See the steps we take to determine which ratings to publish on our partial ratings page.