Questionnaires can be the most frustrating face of SRI for many companies – they can be long, take considerable effort and use valuable internal political capital for uncertain reward.  Four rules can help companies negotiate this area efficiently:

  • Know how to prioritise and do so ruthlessly
  • Apply a public domain rule
  • Publish responses to questionnaires
  • Set the timetable

In addition to the above, companies should give additional credit for questions that they think are well-considered or may be picked up by other analysts in future.

Apply a public domain rule

Companies should not feel obliged to complete questionnaires with data that they have already put in the public domain.  They should simply refer the questioner to their CSR / sustainability report.

Publish responses

Companies should publish their responses to questionnaires online to build up the amount of publically available data and thereby reduce the duplication of questions.

Set the timetable

As part of taking control of the SRI communications timetable, companies should set and publicise ‘open’ and ‘closed’ periods – i.e. periods when they will and won’t respond to investor questions.  The process of answering all SRI questions in the same period should reduce the duplication of effort that companies go through.