ESG Data Guide 2023

ISS ESG - Norm-Based Research

Data category

  • Social data
  • Indices/Exchange data
  • Research data

The data offers solutions for:

  • Environmental impact analysis and insight
  • Investment decisions and portfolio insight
  • Nature-based information
  • Nature-based information: Biodiversity
  • Nature-based information: Land use
  • Nature-based information: Oceans
  • Nature-based information: Water
  • Reporting: CSRD
  • Reporting: Impact
  • Reporting: UN SDGs
  • Social impact analysis and insight

Who are the data users?

  • Corporates
  • Financial institutions
  • Government
  • Investors
  • Trustees
  • Index providers; Institutional investors; Asset managers; Asset owners; Fund managers; Banks; Universities; Research firms

Brief description of the data offering

ISS ESG’s Norm-Based Research is a pioneering research solution developed more than 20 years ago, in collaboration with Nordic asset owners, to enable investors to gain insight into corporate adherence to global norms on human rights, labour, environmental and anti-corruption standards.  

The core normative framework consists of international initiatives and guidelines such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Norm Enterprises and Social Policy, the UN Global Compact and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations 'Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework'. The analysis results are categorized and presented according to a traffic-light system.

The key pillars of ISS ESG’s Norm-Based Research methodology include:

  • A verification process that involves engagement with companies and/or key stakeholders. ISS ESG engages in fact-finding dialogue with companies upon initiation of research into a reported allegation. As part of this dialogue, the company is presented with the allegation and offered an opportunity to state its position. This dialogue continues for as long as ISS ESG maintains its assessment on the company.
  • Qualitative insights that are garnered throughout the research process. ISS ESG’s in-depth research process includes detailed steps to determine the maturity of relevant norms and standards, a company’s association with the controversy, the severity of the allegation, remedial measures, and validation of key information by authoritative sources.
  • Dynamic updating of assessments as developments occur. Norm-Based Research assessments are updated when information on significant developments is obtained through the systematic monitoring of news and stakeholder sources

Norm-Based Research covers approximately 25,000 issuers as of March 2022.

Where and how do you source your data?

ISS ESG carries out data collection, looking for allegations of corporate involvement in failures to respect international norms and standards. Near-real time data is collected from tens of thousands of traditional media, social media and stakeholder publications globally in 12 languages through a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and manually set filters and processed by a team of dedicated ESG news analysts.

Data mining occurs in several steps:

  • The ISS ESG News AI identifies ESG related news in tens of thousands of media sources ingested through LexisNexis. In parallel, ISS ESG processes selected sources applying proprietary filters aligned with a granular taxonomy applicable to the scope of Norm-Based Research and tailored to covered languages
  • The filtered news is further vetted by analysts.
  • Stakeholder sources (authoritative bodies, governmental and intergovernmental agencies, as well as NGOs, trade unions) – which are richer in ESG information than general media sources – are directly reviewed by analysts.

Sources are categorized as follows: Company, Court order; Government agency; Independent expert; Industry association; Intergovernmental agency; Media (general, international); Media (general, local); Media (specialised); NGO (international); NGO (local); Other; Research organization / Academia; Trade union (international); Trade union (local).

What is the cost for your data offering?

Pricing is based on the method by which data is delivered. ISS ESG can provide data via its proprietary platform, DataDesk, or via data feed. Pricing for this solution is available upon request.

What are the key attributes that differentiates the data you offer?

  • High quality data. ISS ESG’s comprehensive Norm-Based Research methodology, supported by strict internal quality management systems, is based on recognized value systems that are continuously adapted to the latest developments and insights in the field of sustainability.
  • Focus on company and stakeholder engagement. ISS ESG engages in fact-finding dialogue with companies upon initiation of research into a reported allegation. As part of this dialogue, the company is presented with the allegation and offered an opportunity to state its position.
  • Dynamic assessments updated as new information becomes available. ISS ESG systematically tracks developments on relevant controversies in the 24-hour news cycle and makes updates to assessments as new information become available and validated.
  • Insights from industry specialists. ISS ESG employs a dedicated team of researchers with specialized backgrounds in global norms, offering insight and dedicated experience on the environmental and social issues identified. The team’s broad language skills and understanding of ESG issues allows it to identify, analyse and track controversies.
  • International expertise and local support. Exceptional client service is a hallmark of the ISS ESG business model with local research, consultants and operational support represented in a dedicated service team. The client support team builds the bridge for clients to the highly experienced team of analysts to help ensure that clients are supported by knowledgeable, skilled professionals to support business objectives.
  • An integrated environmental, social and governance solution. The service combination of the various governance and responsible investment related services offered by ISS allows investors to address ESG challenges with one common approach and rely on global account management and research teams able to offer coherent and unified answers and solutions to their ESG needs. ISS ESG is a true one-stop shop, able to support investors across all ESG related topics.


Norm-Based Research offered by @ISSESG assesses companies’ adherence to international norms on #humanrights, labor standards, #environmental protection & anti-#corruption set out in the UN @globalcompact and @OECD guidelines.