Assignment: Assessing Company Sustainability Performance & Disclosure
With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development it is important to track and assess the contributions of business to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The project Business Contribution to the SDGs - A Student Assessment, was created to engage students in addressing this challenge through research of public documents including company sustainability reports and Communication on Progress Reports (COPs) submitted annually by UN Global Compact company participants.
This project aims to introduce students to a collaborative research environment where they can contribute to the collection and analysis of data on companies’ performance as it relates to the SDGs. On WikiRate, students (working individually or in groups) can choose to contribute to an existing research projects or design their own.
Keep in mind the assignment allows for flexibility in the research and research questions you will ask. You can follow a pre-structured research path or develop your own. The WikiRate Team can support you in the process of creating analyses of your data on the platform through supporting calculated metric set-up.
**Important: The WikiRate platform is ever-changing, with new data being added, updated and used in analysis. If you come across something you did not anticipate - say you have chosen or been assigned a company to research, yet it seems like the data is already complete, choose a new company, or see if there are other years or metrics you can research for that company. Your ingenuity will help you in learning and adapting to this dynamic research space.
Before beginning your data research
Sign up to WikiRate by clicking the Join button. Add a username (your name, student number etc.), add your email address and password, then click Submit.
Choose research topic and develop your research questions. Discuss research questions and choose one or two that can be answered through data collection.
Some example projects have been set up to answer specific research questions. These can be applied to your specific company or sector research, or you may develop your own research question to address.
To develop a research question consider utilising the SDGs to constrain your focus. Think about which aspects of company performance in X Industry or Country are relevant to SDG 5, for example, or what tends to be reported and how this could be analysed. For inspiration, look into the SDG Compass (see the SDG Compass on WikiRate), which has mapped indicators from standards organisations like the Global Reporting Initiative (among others) to the SDGs. You can see there which initial metrics have been identified as relevant to specific SDGs. You may also consider disclosure rates. An initial analysis of company reporting practices (read here) has indicated that companies across sectors disclose these core metrics included in the http://wikirate.org/PRME_Data_collection_core_metrics_for_companies. Think about how your company compares.
Select the companies to be researched. We suggest starting by looking through the UN Global Compact’s database of companies here: Advanced reporters and Active reporters; as well as the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database. Use the Company Vetting project on WikiRate to assess whether the company reports data viable for answering your research question.
Research chosen companies’ data according to the Core Research Metrics (see also below). Each individual should research one company over multiple years (two years is suggested). You will choose your research company based on your professor’s guidance (in this case Colombian companies are the focus). To add a new company to the Project (click on the edit icon to the right of companies). As you add answers to the research page, check the metrics’ methodology to make sure you are reporting the data correctly.
Peer review. You should be paired or pair yourself with another student to conduct a review one another’s data research. There is a mechanism on WikiRate for double-checking metric values. This exercise may require dialogue with your partner around nuances in the data reported by a company. Sustainability tracking and measurement is nuanced and often requires some level of subjectivity to interpret companies’ reports
Conduct analysis. Analyze company reporting as indicated by your professor and course requirements. This may be a report or presentation including a data analysis and/or qualitative analysis of your work. If you would like to conduct data analysis through the WikiRate platform, the WikiRate team can support setting up calculated metrics based on the data you’ve collected and the research question you’ve developed. To solicit support, add a Conversation to your Project to discuss the research approach and what kind of calculated metric will fit. The WikiRate team will join the discussion and provide support. You can find examples of Calculated Metrics here.
About WikiRate Research Tools
Projects. If you are answering a new research question, you can create a new Project frame on WikiRate and add the set of metrics and companies you’ve chosen to research. This tutorial walks you through how to create a new project.
Metrics. To find out more about metrics, browse the Metric page, and read about the definitions of different types of metrics on WikiRate (calculated and researched).
Sources. Add a source for research and citation see the tutorial here.
Extras. You may export data from a project or metric page for analysis off the platform.
Guidance and Useful Links
Using WikiRate. For trouble-shooting and guidance on using WikiRate.
Student research FAQs. Answers to questions frequently asked by students using WikiRate for research for assignments.
WikiRate Values & Principles. Community principles are essential for wiki-type sites to function and help to develop communities of knowledge sharing.
If you have any questions about the research or there’s something you want to discuss, please start a conversation on the relevant project page. Use the “Add Conversation“ button at the bottom of a project page, or see if there’s already a similar conversation you could contribute to. The WikiRate team will be checking these spaces regularly.
Technical support. For reporting bugs.
Data research (GRI research best practices). Metric research is not always a question of finding a number and adding this value to WikiRate – different companies may calculate these numbers in different ways or vary in terms of the scope of who/what is covered. It’s helpful to have fellow researchers around to discuss the quality of data and what it actually means. Information about how a data-point was calculated, or the scope of operations it covers, is important to interpreting that value properly. Best practice on WikiRate is to always write down your methods for finding a value and the context where you found it, as a “comment” to the answer you submit (On what page number did you find the data? Is it presented with background information? Did you have to do a calculation to work out the right value?). This creates the background necessary to understand a value, and allows for a discussion around the data-point itself.
Discussion: You can use the WikiRate platform to communicate general questions or start conversations around specific topics.
For all other questions or suggestions email firstname.lastname@example.org