Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has plenty in common with impact investing. (See The Impact Investing-CSR Opportunity for more) Now CSRHub, a tool that provides CSR sustainability ratings for companies, is listed on Maximpact in a bid to attract the funds it needs to grow to scale.
MEETING THE DEMAND FOR RELIABLE CSR INFORMATION
Founders Cynthia Figge, Bahar Gidwani and Stephen Filler identified a need for an affordable, accessible and reliable source of CSR information and sustainability ratings. Calls for greater transparency were growing as employees, investors, government, researchers and CSR professionals demanded more insight into the effectiveness of CSR programs. Yet good quality information was difficult to come by. Data was scattered across a range of agencies and licensing was expensive. No comprehensive resource for CSR information existed; until now.
CSRHub is a powerful research tool that aggregates CSR data from more than 400 data sources. It brings together information from companies, rating agencies, socially responsible investing analyst firms, NGOs, social benefit groups, governments, publications and crowd- and social network-based sources. From this raw material, CSRHub’s founders have created a global database of CSR activity including unbiased sustainability ratings of over 15,000 companies.
The only tool with this scope, CSRHub provides vital information for researchers, CSR managers, journalists, social activists and others. “We brought together the best data we could obtain from many sources, aggregated it and normalized it to remove bias,” explains co-founder Cynthia Figge. “Some of our sources had never allowed anyone else to use their data in this way. We’re the only ones in the world who have ever looked at all this data together and made meaning of it.”
LOOKING FOR IMPACT INVESTORS
CSRHub has attracted raves from CSR professionals and sustainability advocates for its usability and the quality of its data. It drew the support of angel investors early on, but the founders have always believed that impact investors were a natural fit for CSRHub’s business ambitions.
The company practices what it preaches when it comes to a commitment to social benefit, too. CSRHub is a registered B Corp as well as an advocate for better standards and more transparent sustainability reporting in the CSR sector. Says Figge, “We’re specifically looking for investors who are interested in a profitable company aligned with commitment to solving social problems and changing the world.”
A TOOL FOR THE IMPACT SECTOR?
CSRHub may ultimately prove a valuable tool for the impact sector itself. Its data to date focuses on the CSR areas of employees, environment, community and government, some of which can provide insight into a company’s social or environmental impact. Additionally, the founders are also looking into the possibility of incorporating more impact information into the CSRHub database. They recently carried out a process of mapping the CSRHub schema to the assessment schema for Global Impact Investing Rating System (GIIRS). “The results were compelling,” says Figge.
Though it’s too early to tell if incorporating this data is practical, the implications for the impact sector could be profound. Imagine a world where investors could call up reliable impact ratings for any company in seconds. Such transparency could galvanize the sector and revolutionize the way we all do business.
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