SDGs Research+EAFIT

Assignment: Assessing Company Sustainability Performance & Disclosure

Background

With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development it is of high relevance to governments, companies and their stakeholders to track and assess the contributions of business to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Business Contributions to the SDGs – A Student Assessment, a project led by WikiRate and PRME, aims to aggregate and analyse corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) data to better understand private sector contributions to the SDGs.

University students around the globe are proactively identifying, aggregating, analysing data, and sharing the achievements of companies to the SDGs as reported in their CSR and Communication on Progress reports submitted to the UN Global Compact. Currently, companies report in PDF form, making data points difficult to compare and use for research and performance assessment. The Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Sustainability Disclosure Database contains over 47,000 reports from over 12,000 companies, adding up to millions of data points – but the data are hidden in PDFs. Thus, as part of this assignment, you will research these valuable data points, add them to WikiRate and use the data to yourselves assess company performance and disclosure.

There are four main components to this exercise:

  1. Collecting and add data to WikiRate according to the set of metrics in your project for 1 company over 4 years.
  2. In parallel to the data research, collecting qualitative information according to the SDGs and metrics researched, which provide additional context to understanding how companies are reporting to the SDGs and different issue areas.
  3. Peer review of data research.
  4. A research report using the data and a set of guiding research questions provided below to analyse and compare disclosures.

Pre-research

Step-by-Step

  1. Once you have joined your research group, you can start researching. Navigate to EAFIT's research page under "Subprojects" of the PRME research project below or click here). 
  2. Find the company you have been assigned to research and hit the Research button.
  3. You will see a list of metrics in the dropdown menu. Choose a metric to research and click the Metric details tab to read the methodology.
  4. Start by looking online for a source for this information. Your source may be found by googling the company and 'sustainability report' or by searching the  UN Global Compact Database or GRI Sustainability Disclosure Database. Either download the report or find the correct URL and add the source to WikiRate. If you get stuck, watch this short video tutorial on how to add a source to WikiRate. Make sure you add a title, year and source type to each new source you add. 
  5. Choose the relevant year for the metric value in the dropdown menu and add the value to the box. Make sure you convert the value into the correct unit of measurement. If you cannot find the relevant value click Unknown
  6. To cite your selected source, click Cite on the right-hand side of the window.
  7. Add a comment to your answer detailing the page number of the source where you found your metric value (if applicable). You can also include relevant excerpts from the report. If you converted the metric value, explain how you did so including equations. 
  8. It's time to submit your answer! Click the Submit button and check everything is correct.
  9. Now hit Next to move onto your next metric.

As you conduct your research, keep in mind the following questions which will help you contextualize the data and make comparisons and analyses of company performance:

  • For each metric, how is the data point reported? (a) the scope of their operations which was covered (e.g. full value chain? Company’s own facilities in headquarters country?), (b) the method used to collect the data and/or estimate the answers?

  • For each metric, is there any reporting on the topic outside of the data disclosure? For example, company X does not disclose Total Water Withdrawals. Does the report mention water, is the word referenced in connection with specific SDGs and is water use relevant to the company’s operations?

  • How are the SDGs covered in the report and indicators? How are the SDGs referenced in the report? For instance, are business disclsoures mapped against SDGs (and their targets)? Were there other metrics used to disclose SDG-related information?

Next Steps

  1. 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

  2. Conduct analysis and write-up report. Analyze company reporting as indicated by your professor and course requirements. To see some of the calculated metric analysis that is created based on your research, add your company to the project below.

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Further Guidance

Below are some frequently asked questions that might be useful for you if queries come up during your research. 

  • What is a metric? Metrics measure an aspect of company performance in a given year and each metric value must have a source. Researching metric answers is vital to supporting our work and growing a knowledge base on corporate performance.

  • What is a Communication on Progress (COP) report? Communication on Progress reports, or COPs, are reports that companies participating in the UN Global Compact must submit annually to the organization.The reports show how much progress companies have made in 10 sustainability categories that cover a range of environmental, social and governance indicators.
  • What do I do if the company I am researching doesn't provide the information I need? When you are trying to answer a WikiRate metric question but you cannot find the right information in a company’s report or website, answer the question with UnknownThis may be frustrating at first, but you should actually feel good about adding Unknown because you’re shining a light on a gap in that company’s reporting.

  • What do I do if I enter a wrong value or year? Click on the value, then click the edit icon at top right. Change your value or year, and click Submit.

  • What do I do if I encounter a technical problem? Go to Technical support to report the bug.

  • For all other questions or suggestions email