Harnessing Big Data to Mobilize Investors on Human Rights: Looking Back, Looking Ahead at a Project to Strengthen SASB Standards.

In the fall of 2019 Rights CoLab, along with some of our collaborators, approached the investor-backed Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) with an offer to build a coalition that could provide subject matter expertise to strengthen the disclosure standards with respect to human rights. SASB had just embarked on a process to update the standards, starting with human capital management, and welcomed our offer. We formed a coalition of internationally recognized labor experts — our Expert Group — and enlisted a group of data scientists from the Data for Good Scholars(DfG) program of the Data Science Institute of Columbia University. As we developed the machine learning model that could generate evidence of the financial materiality of human rights, we devised recommendations on how to incorporate our findings into revised SASB standards to benefit workers while reducing reputational, operational, and legal risks for companies.

This report summarizes the progress made during the first year of the project. We begin by describing SASB’s evolving role in the ESG landscape, how those changes are affecting SASB’s approach to standard-setting, and the opportunities they present for better incorporating human rights into the standards. We then provide highlights of our work and a look ahead at prospects and next steps.

We hope that this report will provide valuable insights for others interested in the dynamic space of ESG investing, as well as those seeking to collaborate with SASB or to use data science to promote improved ESG standards.

Read and download the full report here.

This project was made possible by a grant from the Moving the Market Initiative of Freedom Fund, Humanity United, and UBS Optimus Foundation.

Photo by Clark Gu on Unsplash