Weissman Center for International Business Releases 2014 Edition of the Corporate Sustainability Monitor and Website
Baruch College’s Weissman Center for International Business has released the 2014 Edition of the CSR-Sustainability Monitor® that examines the scope and quality of corporate social responsibility reports issued by 614 of the largest global companies.
In the past two decades, there has been growing public concern around the world about the impact of corporate strategies and operations on the physical, economic, and socio-political environments. In addition, it has been recognized that high profile failures from bribery scandals to environmental disasters can have a significant impact on corporate profitability, access to new markets and market capitalization.
In response to these concerns, a growing number of large companies are communicating with the public about their non-financial impacts in annual corporate social responsibility reports. Although information in these reports is used by investors and other company stakeholders in their decision-making, a majority are dissatisfied with the content of CSR reports. Even within the same industry, reports vary significantly in terms of the topics covered, the scope of information provided, and the use of third party assurance. Now that so many companies recognize the importance of having a CSR report, the quality of information in these reports seems to be emerging as the next big issue.
In order to improve comparability of the quality of corporate social responsibility reports, and enhance transparency, researchers at the Weissman Center for International Business, under the direction of University Distinguished Professor S. Prakash Sethi and Saxe Distinguished Professor of Finance Terrence F. Martell, developed the CSR-Sustainability Monitor®. The Monitor scores reports based on a set of the most common CSR topics. The effectiveness of a company’s CSR report depends to a large extent, on the level of credibility that the company’s stakeholders attach to it. That is why the Monitor, in its screening process, also measures the degree to which the reporting company provides integrity assurance as to the accuracy and completeness of the information it is disclosing.
- Company scores ranged from 10.25 to 88.50 with a median of 46.50 (on a scale of 100), which indicates a large disparity in the quality of information in CSR reports. This variation in the quality of reports is largely due to the lack of standardization in CSR reporting and the accompanying divergence of views on what information is really relevant and needed to assess risk. This variation prevents effective comparisons of CSR reports and also signals room for improvement in reporting quality as voiced by the investor community.
- Overall only 36 percent of reports included a statement of assurance from a public accounting/auditing firm or a specialized integrity assurance provider. This suggests a lack of independent validation of the information reported.
- Among the three largest sample size regions, Western Europe had the highest median score followed by East Asia and then North America.
- Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company, was the top Western European company. Samsung, a South Korean electronics company, was the top East Asian company. Barrick Gold Corporation, a Canadian mining company, was the top company from North America. The top U.S. company was Baxter International, a pharmaceutical company.
The 2014 CSR-Sustainability Monitor® is also available online at www.csrsmonitor.org. The online version enables users to search companies and review CSR scores in a variety of industries and across regions. In addition, users can conduct side-by-side comparisons of companies to review CSR disclosure scores.
The CSR-S Monitor:
- offers a range of measures for comparing CSR reports in terms of their comprehensiveness, specificity of detail, quality, and accuracy of reporting;
- enables companies to compare their reports across industry and region, creating a market-driven incentive for companies to improve their CSR reporting to gain competitive advantage resulting in higher quality non-financial information to the investing public;
- provides guidance for companies initiating their own CSR reporting and; offers the institutional investing community, and the analysts that support that community, an independent assessment of the quality of CSR information.
About Baruch College:
Baruch College is a senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY) with a total enrollment of more than 17,000 students, who represent 160 countries and speak more than 100 languages. Ranked among the top 15% of U.S. colleges and the No. 4 public regional university, Baruch College is regularly recognized as among the most ethnically diverse colleges in the country. As a public institution with a tradition of academic excellence, Baruch College offers accessibility and opportunity for students from every corner of New York City and from around the world. For more about Baruch College, go to http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/.