Monsanto and ESG Research Firms Case Study

In this ESG research firms case study, the B.Accountability team helped its client, Monsanto, in discovering which ESG firms it should engage and how. Monsanto is one of the world’s largest agriculture companies that delivers products and supports farmers all around the world. The business is structured in two segments: 1) Seeds and Traits, 2) Crop Protection. Monsanto is focused on empowering farmers—large and small—to produce more from their land while conserving more of the world’s natural resources, such as water and energy.

The Challenge

The number of ESG research and ranking providers worldwide has dramatically increased in the last few years. Moreover, mainstream investors are showing increased interest in learning about the ESG performance of companies in order to make more informed investment decisions. As one of the largest companies in the agriculture industry, Monsanto receives significant attention from these ESG research and ranking firms, and frequently receives analysis reports about Monsanto’s ESG performance from these firms. Because of this, Monsanto wants to operationalize engagement with these ESG research and ranking firms and obtain an understanding of how such engagement relates to Monsanto’s larger sustainability goals and business objectives. Hence, Monsanto asked the B.Accountability team to assess which firms Monsanto should engage with, as well as why it should engage, and how the process can produce the greatest value for Monsanto.

“Monsanto is receiving a growing number of requests from ratings and rankings companies and we find that we are spending more and more time on answering to requests – time we could use on strategic and operational improvements.

I engaged B.Accountability as I know they have a unique understanding of the history and direction of the ratings and ranking firms, and have an impressive network of contacts in leading companies – hence can assist us with state of the art knowledge and practical solutions for what ratings and ranking companies we should prioritize and how we improve proactive information to the market including the ratings and ranking companies.

I was very happy with the result of the assignment that give us practical and operational advice and will help us save time as well as be more proactive in our engagement with the most important stakeholders.”

Tami Craig Schilling
Global Business Sustainability Lead, Monsanto - Monsanto

The Solution

The B.Accountability team has an unique understanding of the history and direction of ESG research and ranking firms, and undertook this project by conducting research on these firms to understand their current reputation and reach, and to assess the potential level of engagement. Additionally, the team conducted interviews with representatives from other leading companies in the industry to understand the trends in investor relations and what are the best practices. The final deliverable includes the following topics:

  • Responsibility management issues for engaging with ESG research and ranking firms
  • Risks and benefits for engaging/not engaging with ESG research and ranking firms
  • Investor preferences and use of ESG research data in investment decision-making
  • Specific considerations for a company while engaging with ESG research and ranking firms
  • Identification of defined process/approach to engage with ESG research and ranking firms
  • How companies use the information in analysis reports they have received from ESG research and ranking firms to improve their sustainability, communications or investor relations performance?

The Results

B.Accountability’s research provided Monsanto with an understanding of the topics mentioned above. Furthermore, based on B.Accountability’s findings, the team provided potential ESG research and ranking firms with which Monsanto should consider engaging. Additionally, the B.Accountability team used their research to provide Monsanto with recommendations for setting up a defined process and relationship management structure as per the industry’s best practices. Overall, these recommendations would allow Monsanto to take proactive measures to improve its ESG reporting performance.