ASSET4 ESG and Sustainability lists

Over the past 14-15 years companies have increasingly reported on Corporate Social Responsibility, Governance and (Environmental) Sustainability. The ASSET4 ESG database carries historical data going back to 2002 when it started gathering data on 1000 (mostly US and EU) companies. These days the number of companies in the database has increased to about 4500 companies.

In the same period two sustainability lists were started: the GRI list of companies using the GRI methodology, and the Global 100 list. I think most companies that currently report using the GRI methodology are covered by ASSET4 ESG. As a check you can use the GRI company list which lists companies (starting in 1999) that have reported according to the GRI guidelines. That list also states what GRI guideline level has been used. Unfortunately it is not possible to upload the GRI website list as it only has the names of the companies. That also makes it difficult to match ASSET4 ESG output with the GRI List.

You can use the variabel GRI Report Guidelines from the database to find out if a company publishes a CSR or Sustainability report in accordance with GRI guidelines for each year that ASSET4 ESG has data on the company. The output will say Yes if it does.
In all, ASSET4 ESG has three GRI related variables that you can download on companies included in the database:
1) GRI Report Guidelines – CGVSDP028
2) Score – Vision and Strategy/GRI Report – CGVSO06S
3) Value – Vision and Strategy/GRI Report – CGVSO06V

Here you see an example of this:

The Global 100 list was started in 2005 and the most current list has just been published on 2014. The list can be downloaded from the Global 100 website. The ASSET4 ESG does not have a specific Global 100 variable that identifies it as being covered. However, the Global 100 Excel list not only annually lists company names but it also has the ISIN codes of each company. That makes it easy to get data from the ASSET4 ESG database as you can upload a list of ISIN codes using the Datastream Excel Add-in option Create list (from range). 340 companies were included in the Global 100 over the period 2005 to 2014. For 330 companies it is at the moment possible to get data from the ASSET4 ESG database.


Companies & the Global Reporting Initiative

Over the past 10 years sustainability or corporate social responsibility have become increasingly important for companies. Many companies these days publish reports or include specific chapters of their annual reports/reviews on this subject. Companies also actively try to become part of sustainability indices or lists to show how responsibly they operate.

In the past I have posted several specific blog items on sustainability:

Since I posted the item on the GRI many companies worldwide have started using this methodology and GRI version 4 has now appeared. In the original post I referred to an excel file of approximately 3000 companies that shows an overview of the companies that have adopted the GRI methodology. This list now includes a staggering 5500 companies worldwide. The list also shows when companies started adopting the GRI method inclusing which level they used in what year. This list is updated 6 times a year and can now be found through the Sustainability Disclosure Database at the section About This Site:


Global 100 annual list

The past 10-15 years many companies have started reporting on the impact of their company on the world. Many companies have also started producing separate annual Corporate Social Responsibilty or Sustainability reports. This type of report covers information about economic, environmental, social and governance performance.

In a previous post on my old blog I mentioned the Global Reporting Initiative and the GRI guidelines. Another, more recently formed, initiative is the Global 100 list of companies.  The Global 100 is an annual project initiated by Corporate Knights Inc. The Global 100 is a list of the top 100 most sustainable corporations. The Global 100 was launched in 2005 and the annual list of Global 100 companies is announced each year during the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The main organization behind the list is Corporate Knights (CK), which is a Toronto-based corporation active in the fields of media, research and financial products. The list is based on information gathered by four sustainability research providers: Corporate Knights, Global Currents, Inflection Point Capital Management and Phoenix Global ADVISORS LLC (Phoenix). Companies’ final Global 100 score is represented by a percentage ranging from 0-100%. The final score is driven by company performance on a set of eleven key performance indicators (KPIs). The final score is a simple average of the 11 KPI scores. An overview of the 11 KPI’s is available on the part of the website that deals with the methodology.

All the annual Global 100 lists are available from 2005 to now:


Companies & XBRL

The abbreviation XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. It is based om XML and is being developed as a freely available, open, and global standard for exchanging business information. Two of the earliest adopters are the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS).
XBRL consists of an XBRL ‘instance’ which contains primarily the business facts being reported, and a collection of taxonomies (called a Discoverable Taxonomy Set (DTS)). These define metadata about these facts, such as what the facts mean and how they relate to one another. The current (2008) version of XBRL is 2.1, with corrections. More background information is available in Wikipedia and a specific XBRL website.

Many large US and internationally operating companies have started posting XBRL files on websites in addition to filing them with the government organizations like the Chamber of Commerce. In 2009 a study was carried out by the North Carolina University and it was found that the XBRL filing contained errors. I do not know how much the XBRL filings have improved the last few years but it is hazardous to take XBRL filings at face value.

The development and use of XBRL to file and report financial statements remains a big step forward, because it makes it easier to use and compare financials statements. This is true not only for investors but also for researchers and students. A study done in 2011 showed that the adoption of XBRL will definitely make it easier to get and evaluate information on company performance and governance.
One of the newest developments is the creation of a Global Reporting Initiative taxonomy (see also an earlier blog post on GRI). This taxonomy will make it easier for companies to also use XBRL for sustainability reporting. The taxonomy is available on the GRI website.