ESG reporting is a disclosure of environmental, social and governance data. As with all disclosures, its main purpose is to shed light on a company’s ESG activities, while improving investor transparency. Reporting is also an effective way to demonstrate that the company is meeting its goals, and that their ESG projects are not just greenwashing, but genuine.
Types of Reporting
ESG reporting exists in the form of regional reporting frameworks, voluntary standards, and national legislation. Oftentimes, companies will include ESG reporting in their annual reports to demonstrate how sustainable the business is. ESG reports can include both quantitative and qualitative information that are related to the three pillars of ESG: environmental, social, and governance.
All of these pillars require different types of measurement, and it is always good to be measured by a third party provider such as the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative). It is a framework that helps companies expose both the positive and negative impacts that their businesses have on the environment, economy, and society. The GRI helps companies to demonstrate how they are offsetting the unavoidable damage they may be causing. For example, planting more trees to offset deforestation.
Another reporting initiative is the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board or SASB. It comprises a set of standards that help companies collect and share ESG data that affect the firm’s business decisions and explain the financial impact of sustainability. They are more sector focused.
This is why the GRI and SASB joined forces in 2020 and have since published a guide to how organizations can use the two standards together. GRI looks at the high-level scope, while SASB gives companies industry-specific guidelines using a financial lens. Both have very good resource centers where more information can be found.
There are also several other initiatives that companies can be a part of, including the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI), and Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI).
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Director, Stakeholder Forum | Former Director
Sustainable Forum | United Nations Office for Economic and Social Affairs