Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Study finds dramatic rise in sustainability reporting

Sustainability reporting is becoming more popular among publicly-traded companies, according to an analysis from New York-based Governance & Accountability Institute.

In 2011, 53% of S&P 500 companies reported on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts, up from just 19% the previous year, the study found. Similarly, 57% of Fortune 500 companies reported on their sustainability effort in the latest analysis, compared with 20% in the prior year. The majority of companies that report in the S&P 500 and the Fortune 500 use the GRI framework.

“An increasing number of corporate managers and boards are recognizing the many benefits that measuring, managing, and disclosing their strategies and performance on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors can have for their companies,” the study said.
There are tangential benefits to sustainability reporting, the G&A Institute says. “Companies that are measuring and managing their sustainability issues appear to perform better over the long-term in the capital markets.”

In addition, the analysis states that companies that report on their sustainability strategies, initiatives, programs and ESG performance appear to be more likely to be selected for key sustainability reputational lists, ranked higher by sustainability reputation raters and rankers, and, selected for inclusion on leading sustainability investment indexes.

The study notes that as 53% of S&P500 and 57% of Fortune 500 companies are reporting on their ESG impacts, for the first time, the non-reporters are in the minority.

"We believe this minority universe will continue to shrink as it has in the past few years as more large-cap companies embrace sustainability reporting,” said G&A Institute Chairman Hank Boerner in a press release. “The benefits of sustainability reporting are becoming increasingly obvious over time and the long-term benefits of adopting sustainability strategies and reporting on performance become easier to measure and quantify."

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