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Friday, April 30, 2010

Encouraging Signs in the Marketplace

One of the most important stakeholders influencing corporate behavior is investors. Recent alignments between mainstream financial market organizations and corporate responsibility organizations are good reason to be encouraged. Of course, SRI’s have always been at the intersection of that space. For example, Calvert with their mission of ‘Integrating sustainability into capital markets for the health of the planet and its people.’ But I am referring here to financial organizations that are not mission driven in the same way.

Last year, Thomson Reuters acquired ASSET4 an investment research provider and offered an ESG/CSR information service.

In addition, last year, in August, Bloomberg launched a new ESG data service. I attended a compelling presentation about the service given by Curtis Ravenel at the annual members meeting of The Climate Group in New York last week. In the opportunity I had for a quick glance, BT seemed to fare well in the aggregate score.

NASDAQ has been running a CRD Analytics since June 2009 “a benchmark for stocks of companies that are taking a leadership role in sustainability performance reporting and are traded on a major US stock exchange”.

NYSE Euronext has partnered with the Corporate Responsibility Officers Association (of which in the interests of full disclosure I should say I am a governing board member) to accelerate professionalization of best practices in corporate responsibility. NYSE Euronext and CROA just released a joint CR practices survey across the member companies of NYSE Euronext.

Of course investors need to understand the data (Bloomberg’s analysis alone has 101 data sets) to be able to act on it. And as we know, good transparency doesn’t always correlate with good practices. But I think these initiatives (and others I have probably missed) are encouraging building blocks.

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