Crowds of Ratings: How Group Wisdom Affects CSR Data

CSR RatingsThe following is a guest post by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on over 5,000 of the world’s largest publicly traded companies. 3p readers get 40% off CSRHub’s professional subscriptions with promo code “TP40“.

Want to know how your company’s social performance compares to that of its closest competitor? It can be hard to get even a general idea, without a lot of digging.

You might first check out some websites. Look at your own company’s sustainability report (if it has one), check out your competitor’s report, and look for reports from a few suppliers and a couple of key customers. But, each report is likely to have a different format and all of this data is “self reported.” Can you trust it?

You can get corporate social responsibility (CSR) data from at least six other sources:  (1) Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) analytical firms such as MSCI, IW Financial,VigeoGovernanceMetricsAsset4Trucost, or EIRIS; (2) standards organizations  such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI),  B-Corp, or the International Standards Organization (ISO); (3) Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Carbon Disclosure Project, Climate Counts, or Burma Campaign; (4) Government-related sources such as the EPADOD, or the UN Global Compact (UNGC); (5) crowd-based sites such as WikiPositive and Glassdoor; and (6) product-level ratings, supply-chain initiatives, and certification systems such as those developed by GoodGuideLEEDWal*Mart (Sustainability Consortium), and Underwriters Laboratories (UL Environment).

The good news is that there is a lot of data available. The bad news is that the sources are scattered and they use a lot of acronyms and jargon.  The research tool we built at CSRHub ingests data from more than 90 of these sources and generates ratings on more than 5,000 companies. But, we have at least some data on tens of thousands of other companies and expect the numbers to grow.  For instance, our friends at BigRoom have already built a list of more than 300 product certification schemes.  Checking all of this data for both a company and its peers is daunting—but it offers tons of insights and opportunities for constructive action.

Our next post will start a tour through these six categories of sources —with suggestions on how to use each.  By the time we’ve finished, there will probably be another five or ten new sources to look at.  We appreciate the hard-working people who ask tough questions of companies to get us this data. It is better to have crowds of ratings than to stand alone.


Special 3p reader offer: TriplePundit readers are invited to join CSRHub’s professional level subscriptions at 40% off the regular price. Just register here and enter the discount code “TP40“.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on nearly 5,000 companies from 135 industries in 65 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.CSRHub rates 12 indicators of employee, environment, community and governance performance and flags many special issues. We offer subscribers immediate access to millions of detailed data points from our 140-plus data sources. Our data comes from six socially responsible investing firms, well-known indexes, publications, “best of” or “worst of” lists, NGOs, crowd sources and government agencies. By aggregating and normalizing the information from these sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links each rating point back to its source.