ISS ESG, the responsible investment arm of Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS), today released a new summary report, Corporate Controversies That Defined 2021, derived from the work of ISS ESG’s news monitoring and Norm-Based Research teams.
By way of background, ISS ESG’s news monitoring looks for allegations of corporate involvement in failures to respect international norms and standards. It collects near-real time data across 50+ ESG themes from tens of thousands of traditional media, social media and stakeholder publications globally through a combination of AI and manually set filters, which are processed by a team of dedicated ESG news analysts. The news coverage collected illustrates potential controversies and highlights a company’s reputational risk when or if implicated in violations connected to ESG. ISS ESG’s Norm-Based Research team uses those news events as a trigger to launch a research and analysis process into reported controversies. At the completion of this process, Norm-Based Research will have distilled the allegations and assessed important key elements such as type of corporate involvement and company responsibility, in addition to evaluating the severity, stage of remediation, and verification of a controversy.
Bonnie Saynay, Managing Director, Global Head of ESG Research and Data Strategy at ISS ESG said: “The new report highlights that social issues such as Human Rights, Labor Rights and Consumer Rights comprised two-thirds of the 2021 news monitored by ISS ESG regarding corporate failures to manage ESG risks.”
Of particular note, in 2021, companies with commercial ties to the Myanmar military and the entities it controls faced increased scrutiny by NGOs and media following the February 2021 coup. Companies have begun taking measures to limit their risk of being involved in human rights abuses, although considerably more work is required. Pressure also continues to grow on more than 100 global brands with alleged supply chain links to forced labor of ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China.
Of further note, in addition to its devastating impact on public health, the COVID-19 pandemic had a particularly adverse impact on supply chains in 2021, highlighting issues such as underpaid wages and denial of benefits and severance pay, as millions of workers were dismissed or furloughed due to the pandemic.
Download a copy of the report here.