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Gaining Ground: FAQ

Frequently asked questions for Gaining Ground: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability

What is the Ceres Roadmap and why is it used as a framework for this report?

The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability, released in 2010, is a veritable users manual for companies working to integrate sustainability throughout the enterprise - from the boardroom to the copy room and through the supply chain. It contains 20 specific expectations in the areas of governance for sustainability, stakeholder engagement, disclosure, and performance for companies to achieve by 2020. The Roadmap is designed to provide a comprehensive platform for sustainable business strategy and for accelerating best practices and performance.

Four years later, Gaining Ground allows us to assess progress toward the expectations laid out in The Ceres Roadmap using the Sustainalytics ESG research and analysis platform.


How can this report be used by companies?

Gaining Ground is a tool for companies to assess their performance against key Ceres Roadmap expectations, discover how their performance measures up and prioritize areas for action and improvement. The solutions-oriented analysis focuses on improvements companies can make to meet The Ceres Roadmap expectations by 2020, providing sector analyses, case studies, and real world examples. Designed to be both a print and web report, the online platform allows users to interact with the data through graphs and tables and to create a customized report experience.


How can this report be used by investors?

Gaining Ground provides a framework for investors who can use the report’s findings, case studies, and sector trends to inform their decision-making and supplement their engagement strategies.  The searchable company scorecards and online graphs in Gaining Ground make it easy to see trends and results for both sectors and companies.  This format can be easily integrated into presentations or used for engagements with companies.


Are the company examples intended to indicate “leading practice”?

The framework set forth in The Roadmap is focused on aggressive shifts that need to take place by 2020.  Today’s best practice will be tomorrow’s business-as-usual.  The company examples included in the report are intended to be illustrative of steps being taken today by U.S. companies to get us where we need to be in 2020.  We consider them to be good practice, and effective examples of progress from a cross-section of companies, but they are not meant to represent leading practice.  In many instances, we are seeing leading practices take shape outside of the U.S., but those examples have not been included in this report.


Why is data not available for every company across every expectation?

As part of the methodology, we have included an indicator mapping table which indicates which sectors were covered by each indicator. Given the consistent set of expectations assigned to all sectors in the areas of governance, stakeholder engagement and disclosure, weightings were uniformly assigned to these accountability chapters. Customized weightings were applied at the performance-level chapters for each sector. For example, supply chain operations are weighted more heavily for sectors with considerable risk exposure by virtue of their complex supply chains, such as Technology: Hardware and Footwear & Apparel. For certain performance expectation, including Facilities & Buildings, Water Management, Transportation & Logistics and Products & Services, data availability was limited to a smaller sub-group of sectors.


Were companies given an opportunity to review data to check for accuracy and completeness?

This report was done collaboratively with Sustainalytics who used their ESG Platform and research methodology process to support this report. Sustainalytics extracts information from a range of primary and secondary sources and specialized third-party data providers to develop the company profiles. These sources are publicly available, except some for which a subscription is required. For this report, data housed in the ESG Platform as of October 15, 2013 was included. As part of Sustainalytics' process, they also review the information they have in the Platform with companies on a rolling basis.

Additionally, for each company assessed in Gaining Ground a company spokesperson was contacted and sent a draft copy of their performance report for verification. Any relevant feedback communicated by companies in this process has been processed and incorporated. For more information, please visit the Methodology.


For additional questions on the research methodology, please visit the Methodology.