Imbalanced Inclusion

RobecoSAM (Dow Jones Sustainability Yearbook) explained by CINCS (Creating Intelligent Natural Capital Solutions) in: Sustainability Indices and Environmental Reporting, 2013-04-23
(http://cincs.com/dev/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/InFocus23.pdf):

“[…] Environmental-business analysts and investors have challenged the credibility of DJSI’s information source for some time. DJSI [Dow Jones Sustainability Index] has four steps to follow in the evaluation process:

[1] First, each participating company has to fill in an industry-specific company questionnaire distributed by RobecoSAM, which evaluates the overall social and environmental strategies of each company.
[2] After that, DJSI will analyze industry-relevant media reports, press releases, news articles, investor commentaries and employee feedback to get a comprehensive understanding of how the company is perceived by opinion leaders and stakeholders.
[3] Following this is the company documentation section, in which RobecoSAM will request sustainability reports, environmental reports, health and safety reports, social reports and annual financial reports from each company.
[4] The last part is the company contact, in which SAM will have discussions and phone conversations with corporation leaders.

Of these, three of them are based on companies’ self-provided reports, data, resources and articles. In that circumstance, data could be optimized or even manipulated to generate better evaluation scores. For example, in the company documentation section, there is no standard sustainability reporting regulation regarding how companies should file sustainability and environmental reports. Therefore, companies are able to polish and further dress these data to make them appear glorious and “trustworthy.”
[…]
Conclusions – With the growing awareness of and demand for sustainability assessment, DJSI is a great tool for companies who are dedicated to gaining ongoing financial growth while meeting high environmental and social standards. The major benefit of being listed in DJSI is that it will help companies to be more transparent for investors through a thoroughly planned and designed corporate sustainability ranking system. The two major deficiencies of DJSI and other similar indices are that they lack authenticity in their auditing process and use imbalanced inclusion. […]”

Imbalanced inclusion: Inclusion of pros only while neglecting cons. In advertising that is legitimate. However, a performance evaluation or an audit which allows imbalanced inclusion is not credible.

External Assurance

https://johannviljoen.wordpress.com/sustainability-reporting-focus-on-assurance/

[…] External assurance seems to increase year-on-year. In the annual World Business Council for Sustainable Development´s (WBCSD) 2015 report, Reporting matters, 78 per cent of their 169 members have their report externally assured. Of course one can reason that the sample population is skewed, and indeed I would agree with that, as membership tends to consist of progressive sustainable companies, but even within this group, the trend is increasing by five percentage points in 2014 and 14 percentage points when compared to 2013. […]

Be assured: External assurance isn’t necessarily external verification.

Leftist Trade Unions not interested in CSR

http://www.etui.org/News/Trade-unions-and-corporate-social-responsibility-pragmatism-wins-out-against-mistrust (2015-02-26)

[…] The more left-wing the trade union, the less it will be interested in CSR’ was how Lutz Preuss summed up the situation. According to this researcher, it is in Finland that the trade union movement is most open to CSR, a finding that can be explained by the fact that this country is able to boast a highly developed social legislation that endows it, to some extent, with a safety net that can protect it from any undesirable side-effects of negotiations undertaken in the framework of CSR. […]

If “left-wing” stands for left-wing conservativism, I agree to that. As for CSR, old fashioned unions too often leave the agenda setting to the employers and lack the competency and professionality required to challenge corporate story telling and corporate “reputation management”.