CSRHub’s Cynthia Figge speaking at Boston College’s 2016 International Corporate Citizenship Conference

BCCCC 2016 Conference

 

CSRHub Co-Founder and COO, Cynthia Figge, will be a panelist at Boston College’s 2016 International Corporate Citizenship Conference. This event will be held on March 20-22nd in Atlanta, GA. Cynthia will be speaking at the Session focused on Ratings, Rankings and Data Analytics.  Cynthia will be joined by Eric Fernald from MSCI and Susanne Katus from eRevalue, in a session moderated by Stephen Donofrio, BC Center for Corporate Citizenship, to discuss the landscape of how companies are measured. The audience will receive tips to shape their companies’ approach to the complex world of ratings and rankings.

 

CSRHub is a Benchmarking Sponsor of the 2016 International Corporate Citizenship Conference. We look forward to joining experts from around the world in sharing the innovative new programs, partnerships, and solutions that are driving positive change across the globe.

 

For the agenda of this event and more information, please click here.

 

 


 

Cynthia Figge, Co-founder and COO of CSRHubCynthia Figge is a forerunner and thought leader in the corporate sustainability movement who co-founded EKOS International in 1996, one of the first consultancies integrating sustainability and corporate strategy. Cynthia is COO and Cofounder of CSRHub. Cynthia has worked with major organizations including BNSF, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Dow Jones, and REI to help craft sustainability strategy integrated with business. She was an Officer of LIN Broadcasting/McCaw Cellular leading new services development, and started a new “Greenfield” mill with Weyerhaeuser. She serves as Advisor to media and technology companies, and served as President of the Board of Sustainable Seattle. Cynthia has an MBA from Harvard Business School. Cynthia is based in the Seattle area.

 

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What’s Next for ESG Metrics?

By Bahar Gidwani

 

Several groups have written predictions about the future course of the Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) measurement space.  We’ve seen stories about the importance of millennials (as both customers and employees), a sense that carbon tracking is finally an accepted part of corporate life, and that companies must watch out for a range of new legal and regulatory issues.

 

At CSRHub, we are exposed to all of these trends, and many more.  Our data collection engine automatically absorbs new data elements on 3,500 topics from 435 data sources.  It analyzes this information, normalizes it, weights it, and outputs ratings on more than 15,000 companies.  Each month we get a fresh look at what sustainability professionals around the world think is important.

 

One thing we’ve watched for several years is the shift in emphasis between interest in Environmental, Social, and Governance issues (“ESG” issues).  Governance and Environment each had their time as the top area of focus.  However, our data shows clearly that Social issues are now emerging as the focus for corporate social behavior analysis.

 

The overall sustainability ratings for the companies CSRHub tracks was stable or even dropped a little between 2009 and 2011.  We believe this was due to cutbacks on ESG spending, following the great recession of 2008-9.  Since 2011, we have seen steady overall improvement across companies in all industries and geographic regions.

 

CSRHub Sustainability Ratings

 

It is relatively easy to drill down into this data and pull out the average ratings across all of the companies CSRHub tracks, for each aspect of ESG.  However, our coverage has grown rapidly over the past eight years, partly due to the fact that we’ve found more data sources (we started with only 70 sources) and partly due to the fact that more companies are reporting sustainability information.  To ensure that we could focus just on trends in ESG focus, we selected 400 companies from this year’s Fortune 500 for whom we had full ratings back to 2009.

 

As you can see in the graph below, the ratings on Governance issues for this set of 400 companies have fallen since 2009 (probably as the legal and governmental pressures from the recession receded).  Environment had an upward spike in perceived performance from 2012 through 2014, but has now leveled off.  Social ratings have now started to move up and look likely to soon pass those for the other two areas of ESG.

 

Social Rating_Rising

 

We can also track how much information we receive from our sources for each area of social performance.  If we assume that the amount of information our sources receive ties to the amount of information that companies produce, we see evidence that the group of companies we study have generated more data in Social than in either of the other two areas.

 

Social Data Available_rising rapidly

 

CSRHub tracks six different social metrics areas: Community Development & Philanthropy; Compensation & Benefits; Diversity & Labor Rights; Human Rights & Supply Chain; Product; and Training Health & Safety.  We expect to see our clients continue to step up their efforts to benchmark their performance against that of their competitors in each of these areas.  Software firms will add more tools and consultants will write more reports on Social practices—just as they did during the 2008-09 era for the Governance space and in the 2012-14 era for the Environment space.  The overall effect should be a refocused interest on improving corporate performance on social issues, over the next few years.

 


 

Bahar Gidwani 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. 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.  It covers over 15,000 companies from 135 industries in 132 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 435 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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Should S&P’s Newest Index Be Associated With Corporate Sustainability?

By Bahar Gidwani

 

It seems that “sustainability” was a core topic at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) conference at Davos.  Many talks centered around the idea of a “fourth industrial revolution” and all of the changes in corporate behavior that would result.

 

The conference created good opportunities to release new lists of sustainable companies and new index products designed to help investors use their money to encourage positive changes in corporate behavior.  For instance, our friends at Corporate Knights released the latest edition of their well-respected Global 100 list.

 

A quick test of the top ten companies on the Global 100 list shows that they have strong average CSRHub ratings.  Nine of the ten companies are 80% percentile or better and CSRHub’s analysis indicates that all are above average performers compared to both the other companies in their country and their industries.

 

CSRHub Scores Top 10 Corporate Knights

 

However, another set of companies was singled out at the meeting and the members of this list did not show similarly strong sustainability characteristics.  The new list was the S&P Long-Term Value Creation (LTVC) Global Index.  S&P selected the companies for the LTVC using data from RobecoSAM (the creator of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes) with input from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).  Since CPPIB is a co-founder of a group called “Focusing Capital on the Long Term,” the Wall Street Journal article on this announcement suggested that this new index would also be supported by other Focusing Capital co-founders such as McKinsey & Co. and BlackRock Inc.  In fact, BlackRock has already committed to invest $2 billion under the direction of this new Index.

 

The S&P’s web site entry on the LTVC says it is supposed to contain stocks “ranking highly in global equity markets, using both proprietary sustainability and financial quality criteria.”  The methodology document describes how RobecoSAM’s Economic Dimension scores are combined with S&P’s Dow Jones Indices Quality scores to generate the rankings.  Economic Dimension scores are driven by code of conduct issues, compliance and corruption problems, measures of innovation and indicators about how supply chains are managed.  A company’s Quality score is the result of combining calculations of return on equity, accrual of assets, and financial leverage.

 

While there are 246 companies in the LTVC, S&P doesn’t disclose the full list.  In fact, it only shares the top ten components.  A quick look at these ten companies shows a striking difference to what we saw with the Global 100.

 

CSRHub Scores Top 10 S&P Long Term Value Index

 

CSRHub’s data indicates that only five of the top ten companies in the S&P list have above average perceived sustainability performance.  Two of them—O’Reilly Automotive and Dollar Tree Stores—are in the bottom 10% among the over 15,000 companies that CSRHub tracks.

 

S&P’s new index may tie well to long-term value creation.  It may even capture factors that tie to long-term stock market appreciation.  But, it does not seem fair to characterize this group of companies—at least from what we can see here—as “ranking high…on sustainability characteristics.”  Perhaps it is time for those of us who track corporate responsibility and care about the metrics we have created, to take back the term “sustainability”?  We could then make sure that our favorite word is only used where it truly applies.

 

 

 


 

 

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. 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.  It covers over 15,000 companies from 135 industries in 132 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 435 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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CRA Webinar Part 2 – Using Your Sustainability/CSR Report for Real Market Advantage

Corporate Responsibility Association

Join us for part 2 of our two part webinar series on January 20th, 2016 with two of the field’s foremost sustainability practitioners – ‘internal’ strategic advisors to the CSR reporting for many of North America’s most well-known companies – and designers of the world’s largest database of ‘external’ Sustainability/ESG ratings. Lorinda Rowledge, PhD, Cofounder of EKOS International, and Cynthia Figge, COO and Cofounder of CSRHub and Cofounder of EKOS, provide practical advice and succinct “lessons learned” on CSR reporting.

 

CSRHub and EKOS International webinars

 

During Webinar 401: Using Your Sustainability/ CSR Report for Real Market Advantage on January 20th, 2016: 

 

Participants will learn how to increase the positive impact of their Sustainability Report — improving environmental performance, increasing brand value, connecting with customers, engaging employees, and accelerating a culture of continuous improvement.

 

If you have been publishing a Sustainability/CSR Report for several years and wonder how to improve it and reach more stakeholders who really care, this webinar will address:

 

  • Trends in Sustainability/CSR reporting in the US and globally
  • Amping up the benefits of CSR reporting to various stakeholder groups including customers, investors, employees, communities and partners
  • Managing ESG and mainstream investor expectations for reporting
  • Ways to leverage your public reporting to improve your ESG analyst ratings
  • New reporting standards including GRI G4 and SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board)
  • Evolving software platforms for reporting your metrics and KPIs
  • Comparative CSR ratings and benchmarking your progress
  • Resources and recommendations

 

Register for GDG

 

 

 

Register for Part Two here.

 

Miss Part 1, Creating a Winning First Time Sustainability/CSR Report? See the slides or watch the webinar here.

 

 


 

Cynthia Figge, Co-founder and COO of CSRHubCynthia Figge is a forerunner and thought leader in the corporate sustainability movement who co-founded EKOS International in 1996, one of the first consultancies integrating sustainability and corporate strategy. Cynthia is COO and Cofounder of CSRHub. Cynthia has worked with major organizations including BNSF, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Dow Jones, and REI to help craft sustainability strategy integrated with business. She was an Officer of LIN Broadcasting/McCaw Cellular leading new services development, and started a new “Greenfield” mill with Weyerhaeuser. She serves as Advisor to media and technology companies, and served as President of the Board of Sustainable Seattle. Cynthia has an MBA from Harvard Business School. Cynthia is based in the Seattle area.

 

Lorinda RowledgeLorinda Rowledge is Partner and Co-founder of EKOS International, and Founding Provost Bainbridge Graduate Institute. Lorinda has for over 20 years helped executives of leading global companies integrate sustainability and business strategy. She co-authored Mapping the Journey: Case Studies in Implementing Sustainable Development Strategies. Prior to co-founding EKOS, from 1986 to 1994, Lorinda was one of four partners managing the Deltapoint Corporation, a consulting and publishing firm leading in advanced Japanese management systems. Lorinda has led 5 Executive Study Missions to Europe and Japan, Lorinda holds a Ph.D., specializing in Organizational Psychology, from the University of Oregon.

 

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Protecting What’s Irreplaceable With Guns…and Brands

By: Carol Pierson Holding

 

Several years ago, I visited the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Northern Kenya. Lewa’s owner’s goal is to set an example of how wildlife can be even more valuable as a source of tourism than for sale on the black-market, providing a model throughout Africa. I was there to assess potential branding opportunities. Virgin Air had committed to a corridor for migrating elephants. Lewa hoped there were others.

 

RhinosOne of Lewa’s initiatives is providing sanctuary for rhinos, an endangered species. The Conservancy took me to see to its community projects, from water pumps to schools to a visit with a baby rhino recuperating from a life-saving operation. All supported Lewa’s mission; all were inspiring.

 

But the talk I remember best was the one given by Lewa’s head of security. The ex-army leader opened his presentation with photos of a dead rhino, a large circle of dried blood on the top of its head where poachers had hacked off its magnificent horn to sell as rhino horn aphrodisiac.

 

The security chief went on to show how Lewa battles poaching with an army of sixty rangers trained in military communication and weaponry, some pictured holding semi-automatic weapons while riding across terrain in jeeps kitted out with sighting devices and machine guns.

 

These symbols of brutality were especially harsh after days spent in nature’s wonderland. But protecting what’s endangered is a war to stop criminals, and things inevitably get violent.

 

So it was a relief when I saw a photo of Brazilian soldiers standing on a clear-cut piece of the Amazon rainforest, holding machine guns, a show of force to stop the violation of forestry laws.

 

But just as bad as the local deforesters are the big agribusinesses and traders buying agricultural products grown on illegally deforested land and sold to American food companies.

 

In Brazil, most is bought by two American companies — beef for McDonald’s and soy for Cargill. Massive companies with massive demands.

 

Now Brazil has cut its deforestation by 80% from 2005 rates, well ahead of its original target of 2020. How? Yes with military enforcement. And even more effective, both American companies succumbed to pressure from the Brazilian government, its citizen-consumers, and most important, outrage from global consumers fueled by reports from environmental organizations. No big company wants to be caught breaking the law, and no big company wants to hurt its brand. After much negotiating, McDonald’s pledged not to buy beef from farms on recently harvested rainforest; Cargill pledged the same for soybeans.

 

Why did they capitulate? It wasn’t just local pressure, a liberal government and active eco-organizations bringing pressure to bear. Global brands were threatened.

 

Likewise Indonesia, home to the world’s third largest rainforest, has a 1999 Forestry Law requiring companies to get two separate permits before clearing forests. However, corporations circumvent these requirements, employing illegal logging activities where enforcement is lax and regulations are porous. To make matters worse, Indonesia’s timber industry is in part controlled by organized crime syndicates, often with the support of Indonesia’s military and police, subverting enforcement efforts.

 

But as in Brazil, global consumers are having a powerful role, exerting their will on food companies at the retail end of the food chain that starts with Indonesian palm oil. As reported by Reuters earlier this year,

 

“Rainforest Action Network’s ‘Snackfood 20 Scorecard’ monitors the implementation of deforestation pledges by companies that buy palm oil from major plantation firms for their products, such as PepsiCo Inc. , Kellogg Company and Kraft Heinz Company.

 

The speed and alacrity with which the major plantation companies began enforcing their ‘no deforestation’ pledges – which also apply to companies in their supply chain – caught both the national government and smaller growers by surprise.”

 

It’s exciting to see brands wield vastly more power than military-grade weapons.

 

As with all issues on climate change, stopping deforestation can only happen if all the players are involved. We need both carrots, from cash payments to farmers in compensation to fostering national pride in rainforests, and sticks, from armed soldiers on the local level to global brand pressure. The climate talks showed that agreement is possible across countries. Brazil showed how to get all players cooperating to solve challenges even faster than thought possible. Indonesia is building on that success. We might just get it done.

 

Photo courtesy of Martin Pettitt via Flickr CC.

 


 

Carol2 Carol Pierson Holding is President and Founder, Holding Associates. Carol serves as Guest Blogger for CSRHub. Her firm has focused on the intersection of brand and social responsibility, working with Cisco Systems, Wilmington Trust, Bankrate.com, the US EPA, Yale University’s School of Environmental Sciences, and various non-profits. Before founding Holding Associates, Carol worked in executive management positions at Siegel & Gale, McCann Erickson, and Citibank. She is a Board Member of AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation). Carol received her AB from Smith College and her MBA from Harvard University.

 

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 15,000+ companies from 135 industries in 132 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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