New DJSI MSA Methodology Shakes Up 2018 Results

What your board needs to know about DJSI's Media and Stakeholder Analysis update
New DJSI MSA Methodology
Publ. date 8 Jun 2018
In June 2018, RobecoSAM announced the update for the Media and Stakeholder Analysis (MSA) which is an integrated part of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) questionnaire for 2018 and onwards. The impact of this change is extremely significant in terms of both industry and company absolute scores. In this article we summarize the most important changes and how to explain this to your board.


As part of the Corporate Sustainability Assessment, the basis for selecting companies for inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, RobecoSAM continuously monitors company-specific controversies. The purpose of this Media and Stakeholder Analysis (MSA) is to check the consistency of a company’s behavior and management of crisis situations in line with its stated principles and policies. MSA-checks are included in various criteria (chapters) of the assessment, such as Corporate Governance, Tax Strategy, Environmental Policy & Management Systems and Human Rights. Through the impact on these chapter’s scores, MSA-checks affect a company’s overall sustainability score.

1. Before 2018, companies were rewarded for not having controversies - this is no longer the case

In the old methodology, companies without MSA cases were favorably impacted as they received a 100-point score on the specific MSA-question for not having a controversy, whereas this score was lowered for companies that did. Controversy-free companies were thus rewarded with about 20-30% for each chapter that included an MSA-check. 

RobecoSAM’s objective with the 2018 methodology update is to remove the MSA’s positive score contribution to companies with no controversies while ensuring that severe controversies are more punished in the final scores. This leads to a better reflection of the actual sustainability performance of companies.

2. This change impacts all companies, even those without MSA cases

As of this year, controversy-free companies no longer receive the ‘positive’ impact automatically, while the companies that do have controversies will see a higher negative impact on their chapter scores, and as a result on the overall sustainability scores. Due to this change, even if no MSA cases were found in 2017 and 2018, a company’s score will therefore decrease. 

3. Percentile rankings are still valid to compare within the sector and against previous year's performance

Since the update is applicable to all companies, percentile rankings within the company's sector remain the same in both the old and new way of scoring MSA cases. RobecoSAM will provide recalculated 2017 scores in order to be able to compare each company’s performance on a year-to-year basis.

Illustration of the impact of the methodology change

The following example illustrates the calculation of a criterion score with no MSA case, impacting the score with minus 5.

Former methodology

New methodology

Criterion A

Question 1: score 80 (25/100)

Question 2: score 80 (25/100)

Question 3: score 80 (25/100)
MSA question*: score 100 (25/100)
Criterion A: score 85

Criterion A

Question 1: score 80 (33/100)

Question 2: score 80 (33/100)

Question 3: score 80 (33/100)
MSA question*: none
Criterion A: score 80

*no MSA case


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