How to Use CSRHUB for Company Benchmarking
By Jana Petrikova
Several times we have been asked how to use CSRHUB to do benchmarking. One approach to this would be to look at a controversial, but well-known and well-studied company, such as Monsanto.
CSRHUB has 23 data sources for Monsanto including socially responsible investment data (Asset4, IW Financial, RiskMetrics, Trucost, and Vigeo), standards organizations (GRI), government organizations (UNGC), NGOs (CDP, Human Rights Campaign, BSR, Covalence, Hispanic Magazine), crowd-based sites (Newsweek, Fortune), and product level, certification, supply chain sources (CDP is working with Sustainability Consortium). Together, these sources include over 500 pieces of information on Monsanto’s behavior. However, these data points reflect significant variations in perspective.
For example, GovernanceMetrics International, RiskMetrics Intangible Value Assessment and the RiskMetrics Global Compact + ratings—all related to governance—vary somewhat significantly. Other examples of inconsistencies appear in ranking lists. In 2010, Monsanto was named one of CR Magazine's 100 Best Corporate Citizens. At the same time, Monsanto ranked last on the list of “Most Ethical Companies” produced by Swiss research firm Covalence. While Monsanto has been a member of Business Social Responsibility (BSR), a group of companies committed to improving their sustainability performance, the company ranked at the bottom of Newsweek’s “Green Rankings 2010: U.S. Companies”.
One reason for discrepancy among sources may be the different perspectives that CSR sources or CSR ratings users represent. For example, Monsanto is a pioneer in genetically modified organism (GMO) technologies. Some people and groups oppose GMOs based on the belief that they are harmful to human health and the ecosystem. Other groups believe that GMOs are reasonably safe and represent a great opportunity for reducing hunger through the improvement of agricultural productivity.
Another example came in 2011, when Monsanto received a 100% score from The Human Rights Campaign Foundation for supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workplace policies and benefits. Many would find this a great victory. But there are others who do not feel companies should aspire to a leadership position in this area or are even opposed to company progress when it comes to issues of sexual orientation.
CSRHUB addresses different perspectives in two ways. First, we try to remove factual differences by comparing the variations among our sources and normalizing our data. Secondly, users can create a personal profile, which enables them to create their own relative priority scale for CSR dimensions (Community, Employees, Environment, or Governance) and set their position on various special issues.