Durham-based Greener Change has launched their beta platform, an open source database for corporate sustainability.

Company founder Matt Aitken imagines empowering a global community of socially responsible investors, consumers, and employees to advance the greater good, and he and his team have taken the first step in building a platform to achieve this.

“Transparency is the bedrock of free and efficient markets,” said Aitken, “With greater access to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) data, people can make more informed—and therefore better—economic decisions, leading to improved shareholder value, consumer protection, and employee loyalty.”

The Greener Change community will collect data on the social and environmental performance of publicly-held companies, said Aitken, including issues such as human rights renewable energy usage, and pay equity.

“Businesses ought to be more transparent and democratic for three reasons,” argues Aitken, because it’s the right thing to do, it’s in their economic self-interest, and there is no conceivable alternative. “Investors, consumers, and employees are increasingly flocking to companies that care about people and planet, not just profit. Successful businesses make and do things people want; companies that ignore the triple bottom line do so at their own peril.”

During the company’s beta phase, the first iteration of their platform is a Google Form where the public can enter data on the social/environmental impact of publicly-traded companies.

“We’re working on building a much more refined platform, in which each company has its own page on our website,” said Aitken, “We envision a user-friendly, wiki-like platform, whereby the public can edit and see changes in real time. The best analogy for Greener Change is that we aim to be Wikipedia for corporate social responsibility.”

According to Aitken, there’s a bevy of academic literature lamenting the lack of freely available environmental, social, and governance (ESG) data and information. Thus, determined Aitken, an open source database would be a boon to the academic community.

“I also have a strong suspicion that the most sustainable companies will want ESG information to be out in the open, since it provides a way for them to differentiate themselves from their competitors,” said Aitken. “As impact investing and ethical consumerism go mainstream, the best companies will be those that focus on the triple bottom line.”

One of the primary purposes of the Greener Change beta launch is to test the hypothesis that people are willing to contribute to such an open source database, said Aitken. “We’re optimistic because of things like Wikipedia and “citizen science,” which is becoming increasingly popular.”

“We can no longer afford to kick the can down the road when it comes to problems such as climate change and income inequality,” said Aitken. And now, there’s Greener Change, which aims to report on corporate sustainability.