TCFD Good Practice Handbook, 2nd edition, by the Climate Disclosure Standards Board and the We Mean Business Coalition (November 2021). This handbook gives an overview of TCFD reporting and provides annotated examples of good disclosure.
Best Practices for Sustainability Reporting from the New York Stock Exchange.
SEC Response to Climate and ESG Risks and Opportunities. Lately it seems that every SEC speech and action has an ESG focus. This spotlight page collects some (definitely not all) of that content in one place.
Words that Work: effective language in sustainability communications, February 2021, by Radley Yeldar.
Telling Your ESG Story: Making a winning case to investors in your ESG reporting, November 2020, by 3BL Media.
Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: Towards Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation, September 2020, by the World Economic Forum and the Big Four accounting firms. This white paper proposes a set of 34 metrics and disclosures for sustainability reporting.
Human Capital as an Asset: An Accounting Framework to Reset the Value of Talent in the New World of Work, August 2020, by the World Economic Forum and Willis Towers Watson. This report offers seven “guiding principles” (like shifting your focus from “employees and jobs” to “people, work, and skills”) and a three-part framework for valuing human capital.
PUBLIC COMPANIES: Disclosure of Environmental, Social, and Governance Factors and Options to Enhance Them, prepared by the Government Accountability Office (July 2020). This report confirms that investors want ESG-related information, and what companies currently provide is inconsistent and not always helpful.
Disclosing environmental and social issues in the proxy statement, from IR Magazine and Nasdaq, discusses how three companies approached enhancing their proxy statements.
As you may guess, I am not a fan of jargon, but law firm Latham & Watkins and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development have co-produced an extensive Book of Jargon for ESG slang and terminology. Click here for the whole Book of Jargon series. And here is an ESG Lexicon from law firm Paul Weiss.
The building blocks: Connecting CDP [Carbon Disclosure Project] data with the CDSB [Climate Disclosure Standards Board] Framework to successfully fulfil the TCFD [Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures] Recommendations (May 2020). This one wins the award for most acronyms in a paper title, but may still contain useful information.
Corporate Governance: The Growing Importance of Human Capital Management, various authors (legal and consulting), April 2020. This report talks about what companies are doing and what they are disclosing.
Toward Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation, by the World Economic Forum in consultation with the Big Four accounting firms (January 2020 consultation draft). As the title suggests, this paper seeks to address the lack of consistency in how companies measure and report on ESG matters by recommending core metrics and disclosure standards.
ESG Reporting Best Practices 2019, by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Project for Growth, Opportunity & Innovation.
Argyle compiles disclosure examples and often adds useful commentary:
A Benchmark of Sustainability Communications in 2019 Proxy Statements
Human Capital Management Disclosures in Proxy Statements (2019)
Aligning ESG Reporting Frameworks with the TCFD Recommendations (2019)
Addressing Key ESG Topics Effectively (examples from 2018 documents)
Sustainability Reporting Frameworks: A Guide for CIOs (September 2019), by Rhonda Brauer and Glenn Davis for the Council of Institutional Investors Research and Education Fund. This report summarizes and compares four oft-used ESG reporting frameworks: the Climate Disclosure Project (CDP), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
Nasdaq ESG Reporting Guide 2.0 (May 2019). This document “aims to help both private and public companies navigate the evolving standards on ESG data disclosure.”
2019 Guide to Effective Proxies by DFin Solutions. Donnelley releases a comprehensive annual guide to proxies, with hundreds of examples. This is the section of their forthcoming new guide that focuses on ESG and human capital management disclosures.
Here are more previews (with some overlap from the document posted above): ESG disclosure, human capital management disclosure, and emerging topics disclosure.
2019 Research Report: An analysis of the sustainability reports of 1000 companies pursuant to the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive, by the Alliance for Corporate Transparency. Main conclusion: “…quality and comparability of companies’ sustainability reporting is not sufficient to understand their impacts, risks, or even their plans.”
The Corporate Reporting Dialogue is a joint effort among eight organizations that set reporting standards (Carbon Disclosure Project, Climate Disclosure Standards Board, Global Reporting Initiative, International Accounting Standards Board, International Integrated Reporting Council, International Organization for Standardization, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, and Financial Accounting Standards Board). Key documents right now are:
ESG Disclosure Handbook (April 2019) (with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development).
Corporate Reporting Landscape Map, which summarizes the various reporting initiatives and provides links to more information.
Statement of Common Principles of Materiality of the Corporate Reporting Dialogue (March 2016).
ISS Environmental & Social QualityScore: FAQs (December 2017).
The United Nations Global Compact Guide to Corporate Sustainability (December 2014) states that one of the five things that sustainable companies do is report on their progress.
About the Communication on Progress (COP)
UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework (focused on human rights).
GRI and United Nations Global Compact, Integrating the SDGs into Corporate Reporting: A Practical Guide (August 2018).
U.S. Government Accountability Office Report, Climate-Related Risks: SEC Has Taken Steps to Clarify Disclosure Requirements (February 2018).
Global Reporting Initiative. “GRI promotes the use of sustainability reporting as a way for organizations to become more sustainable and contribute to sustainable development.”
Business Reporting on the SDGs: An Analysis of the Goals and Targets
Forging a path to integrated reporting (October 2016)
Sustainability Reporting Standards Hub
The Next Era of Corporate Disclosure: Sustainability and Reporting 2025 Project (March 2016)
Sustainability and Reporting Trends in 2025: Preparing for the future (October 2015)
Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. “SASB is working to increase the usefulness of information available to investors, and improve corporate performance on the environmental, social, and governance issues most likely to impact value.”
Human Capital Bulletin (November 2020)
Download 77 industry-specific standards.
TCFD Implementation Guide: Using SASB Standards and the CDSB Framework to Enhance Climate-Related Financial Disclosures in Mainstream Reporting (2019).
The Future of Sustainability Disclosure: What Remains Unchanged in an Environment of Regulatory Uncertainty? Keynote address by former SEC Commissioner Elisse B. Walter at the December 1, 2016, SASB Symposium.
Library of guidance and insights
Climate Disclosure Standards Board. “CDSB is an international consortium of business and environmental organizations committed to the integration of climate change-related information into mainstream corporate reporting.”
Framework for reporting environmental information & natural capital (June 2015)
Frequently Asked Questions on Corporate Sustainability Reporting (2013)
Communicating climate change in mainstream reports (March 2013)
Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures: Guidance on Risk Management Integration and Disclosure (2020).
Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures: Status Report (June 2019). This report provides an overview of current disclosure practices as they relate to the Task Force’s recommendations.
Final Report: Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (June 2017).
Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures Knowledge Hub
SEC Interpretive Release, Guidance Regarding Disclosure Related to Climate Change, effective February 8, 2010.
This March 2019 speech by William Hinman, the SEC’s Director of Corporation Finance, says this release “remains a relevant and useful tool for companies when evaluating their disclosure obligations concerning climate change matters.”
Constructing ExxonMobil’s First Integrated Report: An Experiment (March 2018), by Robert G. Eccles and Michael P. Krzus.
International Integrated Reporting Council. The IIRC “is a global coalition of regulators, investors, companies, standard setters, the accounting profession and NGOs.” One goal is to blend ESG reporting with traditional financial reporting.
State of Sustainability and Integrated Reporting 2018
“Creating Value” series of reports (research, case studies, trends, and more)
The International Integrated Reporting Framework (December 2013)
Showcase of recognized integrated reports
Center for Political Accountability. “The Center for Political Accountability (CPA) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that was created to bring transparency and accountability to corporate political spending.”
London Stock Exchange Group, Revealing the full picture: Your guide to ESG Reporting (February 2017).
EY Center for Board Matters, 2019 Proxy Season Preview (explaining that institutional investors want more information about board diversity, environmental and social issues, and company culture).
Sustainability Reporting Trends and Best Practices: The Best for 2018. By The Works Design Communications.
Sustainly is a consulting firm focused on sustainability communications. Here are some of their recent publications [free registration required to access documents]:
Global Goals Trend Briefing (2017).
The 6th Annual Social Media Sustainability Index (2016) (discussing how leading global companies communicate sustainability using online platforms and social media).
The Big Brand Report 2016: How 165 of the Biggest Brands Talk Sustainability on Facebook.
Investing for a Sustainable Future: Findings From the 2016 Sustainability Global Executive Study and Research Project, published by MIT Sloane School of Management (May 2016) [free registration required].
Corporate Citizenship (a consultancy), in association with S&P Dow Jones Indices, Getting on the right track: How to demonstrate the value of sustainable business to investors (2016) [free registration required]
Reporting with purpose and impact: celebrating openness in your sustainability reporting (November 2018)
From promise to reality: Does business really care about the SDGs? (2018)
The Sustainable Development Goals: a common language for corporate reporting on societal issues (October 2016)
Sustainability goes mainstream: Insights into investor views (May 2014).
Deloitte’s Sustainability group, which offers reporting, compliance, and assurance services, has produced several helpful reports:
Navigating the evolving sustainability disclosure landscape (September 2014)
Going from good to great: Ways to make your sustainability report business-critical (July 2013)
Other resources on sustainability reporting and integrated reporting
From EY’s climate change and sustainability services:
ESG Reporting (August 2018)
Integrated reporting: Linking strategy, purpose and value (August 2016)
The road to reliable nonfinancial reporting (May 2016)
Sustainability reporting–the time is now (2014)
The State of CSR Reporting and Communications 2016, by Ethical Corporation, identifying key trends and opportunities for reporting (free registration required).
The road ahead: The KPMG Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting 2017, published by KPMG International.
See Change: How Transparency Drives Performance, by SustainAbility (October 2014).
An in-depth study on sustainability transparency practices around the globe (June 2014), published by S&P Dow Jones Indices in cooperation with RobecoSAM.
From Principles for Responsible Investment:
Investor Agenda For Corporate ESG Reporting: A Discussion Paper by Global Investor Organisations on Corporate ESG Reporting (October 2018)
Addressing Investor Needs in Business Reporting on the SDGs (with GRI and the UN Global Compact) (July 2018)
ESG monitoring, reporting and dialogue in private equity (with links to case studies) (June 2018)
The Governance & Accountability Institute, a research, monitoring, and advisory organization, offers some helpful research about sustainability reporting.
Ceres, “a nonprofit organization mobilizing business and investor leadership on climate change, water scarcity and other sustainability challenges,” has produced several reports. [Free registration often required for downloads.]
Change the Conversation: Redefining How Companies Engage Investors on Sustainability (February 2019)
Disclose What Matters: Bridging the Gap Between Investor Needs and Company Disclosures on Sustainability (2018)
Systems Rule: How Board Governance Can Drive Sustainability Performance (2018) (with kks advisors) [it is not obvious from the title, but the report covers several disclosure issues]
SEC Sustainability Disclosure Search Tool [if you want examples of how other companies discuss a particular sustainability issue, this is a good starting place]
Corporate and Integrated Reporting: A Functional Perspective, by Robert G. Eccles and George Serafeim (revised May 2018).
Directive 2014/95/EU of the European Parliament (October 22, 2014), requiring companies with more than 500 employees to report annually on “environmental, social and employee matters, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery matters.”
Corporate Sustainability and Disclosure, by Katayun I. Jaffari (March 2015).
5 Keys to Producing Successful Sustainability Reports, by Paul Leavoy, LNS Research (November 12, 2014).
The CEO water mandate: Corporate water disclosure guidelines (September 2014).
Baker & McKenzie Client Alert: What is the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board and how does its work affect your company? (September 2014).
Resources on Sustainability Reporting. American Institute of CPAs.
CorporateRegister.com and CSRWire both maintain directories of CSR and sustainability reports.
Click here for guidance about other disclosure topics.