Update 10 January 2020: The SAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA), established by RobecoSAM, is now issued by S&P Global. RobecoSAM, an asset manager focused entirely on sustainable investing, established the CSA in 1999.
12.03.19 (orignal article) - As SustainaAbility’s Rate the Raters 2019 report shows, nearly two-thirds of polled corporate respondents now use ESG ratings to inform their decision-making – for internal assessments and strategy, to help decide what data to disclose, identify trends and support stakeholder engagement.
RobecoSAM’s CSA stands out in terms of its perceived usefulness and business value. In response to open-ended questions, respondents say they use the CSA as a comprehensive internal assessment tool to
SustainAbility launched “Rate the Raters” in 2010 as a multi-phase research program designed to influence and improve the quality and transparency of corporate sustainability ratings. The Rate the Raters 2019 report outlines the key insights from a survey of more than 300 sustainability professionals in corporate, NGO, government, academic and other sectors, and draws comparisons between the latest survey and the original survey conducted in 2012.
While the number of ESG ratings has increased dramatically over the last 10 years, the leaders in the ratings space remain largely unchanged, with RobecoSAM’s CSA placed firmly among them. The comparison with 2012 shows that perceptions of the CSA – as well as of all other ratings – have improved in recent years. In 2018 as in 2012, survey respondents consistently identified the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (narrowly denoted as Dow Jones Sustainability Assessment in 2012) and CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) as leaders.
In its 20th anniversary year, RobecoSAM’s CSA is rated the most useful ESG rating by global sustainability professionals, with corporations in particular noting its value for their sustainability management. Unprompted, the CSA is by far the most frequently mentioned ESG rating in terms of the top three ratings with the highest quality.
Question:Which ESG ratings do you consider to be of highest quality (i.e. excellence, robustness and accuracy of evaluation)? Please consider both broad, combined ESG ratings and those specific to individual industries or ESG issues.
As in 2012, the respondents to the Rate the Raters 2019 survey cite trustworthiness and transparency of data sources, and robustness of methodology as the key factors that determine the quality of an ESG rating. In addition, selection of relevant and material issues has gained importance for the quality of ESG ratings. Experience and competence of the research team and disclosure of methodology are also seen as key elements of a good rating.
Respondents’ pain points concern above all the comparability and consistency of ESG ratings, transparency of data and methodologies as well as an insufficient focus on material issues by sector. Against this background, RobecoSAM’s CSA stands out with its high level of transparency, its sector-specific view of material ESG issues, and its forward-looking incorporation of emerging sustainability risks and opportunities.