Corporate Sustainability reporting on the rise

Washington, D.C., USA – More than half of the United States’ 100 largest publicly traded companies now report on their sustainability efforts, and more than a third now incorporate elements of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) sustainability reporting guidelines, according to a report released by the Sustainable Investment Research Analyst Network (SIRAN), a working group of the Social Investment Forum (SIF), and conducted by the independent investment research firm KLD Research & Analytics, Inc.

The 2008 S&P 100 Sustainability Report Comparison, which evaluates SIRAN data through the end of 2007, shows a marked increase in sustainability reporting and use of the GRI by the top U.S. companies since mid-2005.

Key findings include:

  • 86 of the S&P 100 companies now have corporate sustainability websites, compared to 58 in mid-2005, an increase of 48 percent;

  • 49 of the leading U.S. companies produced a sustainability report in 2007, an increase of 26 percent from 39 in 2005;

  • 41 now include a reference or references to the GRI standards, up 71 percent from just 24 in 2005; and

  • 34 companies now include a GRI Index in their report, an increase of 70 percent, up from 20 in 2005.

SIRAN’s third annual analysis of sustainability reporting by companies listed on the Standard & Poor U.S. 100 Index is available here.

Daniel Nielsen, member of the SIRAN Steering Committee and manager of socially responsible investing for the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of The United Methodist Church, said: "The purpose of this study was to identify the level of corporate sustainability disclosure among the largest publicly traded companies in the U.S."

Sustainability reporting is a process through which organizations report on extra-financial performance metrics, covering such areas as the environment, diversity, governance, human rights, and ethics. "The growth of sustainability reporting is an important indicator of the usefulness with which this information is viewed by companies, investors, employees, and community members." noted Nielsen.

"It’s encouraging to see continued progress," said Katy Chapdelaine, senior research analyst at KLD and project manager for the Sustainability Report Comparison. "Our hope is that this trend continues, and that more companies realize the full potential of communicating transparently. Sustainability reporting is an important means through which corporations can communicate challenges, goals, and progress on issues that are critical to their industries and stakeholders."

By comparison, Stratos Inc. (Stratos), a Canadian business consulting firm, has released a national study examining sustainability reporting trends and the best practices of some of Canada’s leading corporations. The study found that disclosure of sustainability information Canadian companies is now standard practice, with 80% including some environmental, economic and social information in their public reports.

According to Stratos, since 2001, the number of corporate sustainability reporters in Canada has increased from 57 to 108. Over the same time period, the percentage of TSX companies that produce sustainability reports increased from 10% to 18%.

For More Information: Social Investment Forum

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