CSR Ratings Trends: Are We Making Progress?

CSR RatingsThe following is part of a series 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″

By Bahar Gidwani

This post is part one of a two part series.

CSRHub subscribers can now inspect the corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance for each month since our launch (September 2010) for each of the almost 5,000 companies in our database.

For instance, here is the monthly performance for Hewlett Packard—a company that has had some CSR-related issues during this time period.

The upgrade allows our users to check the details of changes in their performance over time and look for trends in their competitors’ performance. However, we were almost immediately asked a “big question:” is there an overall upward trend in company CSR performance?

Unfortunately, as the chart below shows, there has been almost no overall change in CSR performance during the 16 months we have tracked.

We cover 135 industries and 65 countries. So, we have been able to dig out examples of overall changes in performance. For instance, these seven major countries show an interesting divergence:

The change in China’s numbers makes sense — companies there have taken major steps to improve their sustainability performance over the past year. The drop in European performance also seems reasonable, given the economic pressures that companies in France, Germany, and the UK have experienced. US companies make up about 40% of our database—so their fairly flat performance could be a big contributor to the flat shape of the overall curve.

Still, we’d have liked to see more evidence of steady upward progression in CSR performance. We don’t think there is any methodological issue with our system (more on that in a subsequent post). We hope that as we extend the span of our database (one and a quarter years is not very long) and perhaps as the economy improves, we will start to see a positive overall trend—a clear sign that companies are doing their share to contribute to a more sustainable world.

Bahar Gidwani is a Co-founder and CEO of CSRHub. Formerly, he was the CEO of New York-based Index Stock Imagery, Inc, from 1991 through its sale in 2006. He has built and run large technology-based businesses and has experience building a multi-million visitor web site. Bahar holds a CFA, was a partner at Kidder, Peabody & Co., and worked at McKinsey & Co. Bahar has consulted to both large companies such as Citibank, GE, and Acxiom and a number of smaller software and Web-based companies. He has an MBA (Baker Scholar) from Harvard Business School and a BS in Astronomy and Physics (magna cum laude) from Amherst College. Bahar races sailboats, plays competitive bridge, and is based in New York City.

CSRHub is the preeminent source of aggregated corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information worldwide. We cover nearly 5,000 companies in 135 industries in 65 countries. With an unmatched compilation of data, we provide access to corporate indicators on employee, environment, community, and governance issues. Our 140-plus data sources span across sectors, including six socially responsible investing analysts, as well as leading indexes, NGOs, crowd sources, and government agencies. Our comprehensive analysis informs and empowers businesspeople and activists alike. These are corporate social responsibility ratings to help you change the world.


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.