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“Rate the Raters” 2019: Global companies value the SAM CSA as the most useful rating tool

“Rate the Raters” 2019: Global companies value the SAM CSA as the most useful rating tool

Faced with a choice of over 600 ESG ratings globally, companies need clear yardsticks to select the best tool to inform their sustainability strategy and communicate their sustainability performance and progress to investors and other stakeholders. SustainAbility’s widely recognized “Rate the Raters” report is such a yardstick. The 2019 edition confirms the credibility of the SAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) as a leading ESG rating that tops the global ranking in terms of value and use for global corporations.

  • “Rate the Raters 2019” helps to make sense of the expanding universe of corporate sustainability ratings

  • Global corporations consider the SAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) to be the most useful ESG rating to inform their sustainability practices and create real business value

  • Professionals demand more data transparency, robust methodologies and sector focus

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

  • identify areas of strength and opportunities
  • inform them on trends and expectations in relation to different ESG issues
  • guide them in their reporting
  • complement direct requests for information or feedback from stakeholders
  • benchmark against industry peers
  • identify gaps
  • highlight areas that need more attention from companies’ teams.

CSA consistently ahead in the ESG ratings space

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.

The RobecoSAM CSA also leads alongside CDP in the prompted evaluation of the 11 rating providers covered by the survey, with corporate and academic/think tank/NGO respondents aligned in their positive views of RobecoSAM and CDP as the two ESG ratings with the highest quality.

CSA ticks all the boxes

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.