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CSA 2019: No sign of survey fatigue

CSA 2019: No sign of survey fatigue

05-08-2019 | Insight
If there was any question about corporates’ focus on sustainability as a strategically important issue, the 2019 SAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) removes all doubt; well over 1,100 companies chose to get assessed on their corporate sustainability performance representing a record 17% increase compared to 2018. This record growth in both absolute and relative terms signals that despite reports of growing “survey fatigue”, interest in value-adding sustainability benchmarking has reached a new high.

Speed Read

  • A total of 1,166 companies participated in the 2019 CSA, a 17% increase over 2018 participation.
  • Benefits of the CSA attracted over 200 new companies to complete the process for the first time.
  • Regionally, Latin American corporates showed the greatest rise in participation, with an increase of 36%.
  • In absolute terms, the strongest increase in participation was in the US with 44 new companies signing up, bringing the participation rate in DJSI North America up to almost 40%.

Recording the most sustainability assessments in its 20-year history, the 2019 CSA paints a clear picture of the rapid global rise in corporates seeking to benchmark their sustainability performance. Companies participating in the CSA now represent USD 23 trillion or 42% of market capitalization in the 11,000+ component S&P Global Broad Market Index (BMI). This year, the top three first-time participants alone added almost USD 1 trillion in market cap assessed by the CSA.

Investor relations drives CSA relevance

In recent years, as sustainable investing has matured, corporate sustainability performance is becoming a standard topic on boardroom agendas and is gaining the attention of the C-Suite. Consequently, comprehensive corporate sustainability reporting and ESG ratings conducted by independent professionals have become a core need of corporates, helping to gauge improvements year over year. RobecoSAM is proud to have been a part of this work for the last two decades years.

Independent sources providing guidance on which ESG ratings deliver value help companies navigate the multiple assessment and ratings providers which exist today to service the growing numbers of ESG-focused investors. One of these sources, the SustainAbility Rate the Raters Expert Survey 2019 indicates that the CSA has never been more popular or relevant. When comparing 11 of the leading global ESG ratings providers, the SAM CSA was rated as the highest quality and the most frequently mentioned by sustainability professionals across corporates, NGOs, academia and other areas.

"The SAM CSA is so well-known that we chose to undertake the assessment to help us learn and better understand the main corporate sustainability concerns. From our perspective as first time participants, the process was highly professional with a lot of helpful guidance. We hope to participate again in the CSA next year.”
Junying Gu, Executive Director and Executive Vice President, ZTE Corp, global leader in telecommunications and information technology headquartered in China.

DJSI inclusion proven to add visibility and interest of long-term investors

The use of the CSA results by RobecoSAM in partnership with S&P Dow Jones Indices to determine the components of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) also celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The DJSI World has become an iconic index, with inclusion viewed as a badge of honor by companies. Even 20 years on, it continues to be frequently cited in leading academic research and thought leadership pieces on sustainability and sustainable investing.

A recent study from HEC Paris researchers proves that DJSI World inclusion impacts interest in the company from the investment community. The researchers found, “addition to, or continuation on the DJSI attracts more attention from financial analysts” and significantly that “it also leads to an increase in the percentage of shares held by long-term investors, indicative of a trend that professional investors are increasingly paying more attention to CSR-visible firms.”

First-mover advantage

These achievements come as a result of several factors which collectively stem from RobecoSAM’s first-mover advantage in launching the CSA in 1999. Companies seeking to better understand and benchmark their corporate sustainability performance benefit from the rigor and robust process of the CSA, with its sector-specific questions across 61 industries. In addition, its focus on relevance and constant improvement has resulted in recognition and integration of many critical sustainability issues into the assessment questions long before ESG-focused investors started to address these issues with corporates. Companies participating in the CSA use the questionnaire as a toolkit to answer ESG-focused investor requests.

In comparison to 2018 alone, the CSA has significantly gained more interest and action from corporates. Here we share some of the highlights of this year’s assessment - 2019 CSA Statistics

Participation rate

by DJSI invitation

Index (No of companies targeted)

2018

2019

World (2500)

33%

37%

Emerging Markets (800)

26%

32%

North America (600)

34%

38%

Asia Pacific (600)

41%

44%

Europe (600)

42%

46%

Australia (200)

25%

32%

MILA (150)

48%

53%

Top Countries with biggest absolute increase in CSA participation

No of companies participating

2018

2019

Increase

United States

199

243

44

Australia

43

58

15

Mexico

26

39

13

Japan

148

158

10

Peru

5

14

9

China*

13

21

8

Switzerland

16

24

8

India*

28

35

7

Malaysia

5

12

7

France*

42

48

6

United Kingdom

53

59

6

* Country has an absolute increase equal to country below

Top 10 Industries by CSA participation rate

 

Share of invited companies participating

Industry (No of invited companies)

2018

2019

Construction Materials (36)

36%

50%

GAS Gas Utilities

33%

48%

Electric Utilities (100)

36%

47%

Multi and Water Utilities (41)

37%

46%

Commercial Services & Supplies (41)

37%

44%

Professional Services (32)

34%

44%

Computers & Peripherals and Office Electronics (35)

40%

43%

Metals & Mining (79)

39%

42%

Food & Staples Retailing (66)

26%

41%

Industrial Conglomerates (47

35%

39%

Top 10 countries by total CSA participation rate

Country

No of companies invited

Share of invited companies participating 2019

Colombia

15

80%

Spain

28

79%

Thailand

36

78%

Italy

31

74%

New Zealand

12

58%

Mexico

67

58%

Netherlands

33

58%

France

86

56%

Finland

18

56%

Russian Federation

28

54%

Regional Participation

No of companies participating

2018

2019

% Increase

Africa

19

21

11%

Asia Pacific

378

441

17%

Europe

278

306

10%

Latin America

91

124

36%

North America

227

274

21%

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