Baruch College Issues Rankings on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Reports for 629 of the World's Largest Companies
Spanish Utility Endesa, S.A. Ranks #1 in College’s CSR-Sustainability Monitor
New York, New York – December 1, 2017 - Baruch College’s Weissman Center for International Business has released the 2016 Edition of the CSR-Sustainability Monitor® that examines the quality of CSR reports issued by 629 of the world’s largest companies in twenty industries.
According to the findings of Baruch College’s newly released CSR-Sustainability Monitor, the Spanish utility Endesa, S.A. was the top ranking company for CSR reporting. Other top companies include Canada’s Barrick Gold, the Ford Motor Company, and Acer, the electronics manufacturer in Taiwan.
This year’s report marks the Center’s third major release of rankings in CSR reporting during the last five years. The complete 2016 CSR-Sustainability Monitor database is available online at www.csrsmonitor.org.
Why Examining CSR Reporting Matters
In the past two decades, there has been growing public concern around the world about the impact of corporate strategies and operations on the environmental, economic, and social conditions. 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 risks and impacts in annual CSR reports. Over the last five years, the rate of non-financial report publication among S&P 500 companies has dramatically increased from 20% to 82%.
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 specificity 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 CSR 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 evaluates the information quality in CSR reports based on a set of the most common CSR topics.
Key Findings of the 2016 Analysis:
- Company scores ranged from 4.5 to 80.50 with a median of 42.75 (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.
- Overall, only 42 percent of reports included a statement of assurance from a public accounting/auditing firm or a specialized integrity assurance provider, though the percentage is trending up.
- Among the three largest sample size regions, Western Europe had the highest median score followed by East Asia and then North America.
- Of the 629 companies in the sample, Endesa S.A., a Spanish utilities company, was the top overall scorer. Barrick Gold Corporation, a Canadian mining company, was ranked second followed by Ford Motor Company from the U.S. ranked third and Acer Incorporated, a Taiwanese electronics company, ranked fourth.
An Analytic Tool for Comparing Corporate Social Responsibility Reports
Baruch College’s Weissman Center for International Business created the CSR-Sustainability Monitor as a tool to analyze corporate social responsibility reporting from the largest U.S. and international companies. The CSR-Sustainability Monitor measures the quality of information provided by a company in its CSR reporting only, and does not represent an assessment or ranking of a company’s actual performance or activities in the area of CSR.
The Center has made the 2016 CSR-Sustainability Monitor database available online at www.csrsmonitor.org. This site enables users to search companies and review CSR reporting quality scores in a variety of industries and across regions. In addition, users can conduct side-by-side comparisons of companies to review scores. Users can also compare a company’s 2016 results to reports in earlier editions of the Monitor.
Capabilities of the CSR-Sustainability Monitor
- offers a range of measures for comparing CSR reports in terms of their scope of coverage, specificity of detail, and degree of external verification
- 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.