Reporting of sustainability, CSR / ESG metrics, and performance in the United States is currently voluntary. However, corporations have been increasing the levels of reporting on these issues primarily driven by the investor community. The Governance and Accountability Institute (GAI) reports that approximately 81% of S&P 500 companies issued a sustainability report in 2015, compared to less than 20% in 2011. By 2020, nearly 20,000 companies have produced more than 120,000 reports globally (corporate register). A KPMG survey in 2017 revealed that sustainability reporting is standard practice for large and mid-cap companies worldwide.
Corporations are moving in the right direction; however, more work needs to be done to improve the quality of sustainability reporting. In its Conceptual Framework, SASB points out that sustainability reports lack focus on the sustainability issues most important to investors. A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey revealed that nearly three-quarters of investors are neutral or somewhat dissatisfied with current environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting practices. Similarly, 80% of sustainability-related comment letters submitted to the SEC in 2016, in response to SEC Concept Release 33-10064 (Business and Financial Disclosure Required by Regulation S-K, August 2016), called for improved sustainability-related disclosures in SEC filings and market standards for these disclosures. SASB states in its 2017 report, the State of Disclosure, that “by and large, companies continue to take a minimally compliant approach to sustainability disclosure, providing the market with information that is inadequate for making investment decisions.”
Vervantis Sustainability software closes the gap between existing reporting and the level expected by the investor community, producing detailed reports with both numerical data and textual responses consistently across all protocols.