The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has called on regulators to simplify ESG corporate reporting.
In the seventh edition of Reporting matters, the WBCSD annual review of member companies’ sustainability and integrated reports, the council says that public pressure, regulation and investor scrutiny has led to an explosion of information requests and reporting approaches to satisfy stakeholder needs. While this has made sustainability reporting an imperative for business, it has also created a significant burden for reporters.
This year, Reporting matters presents the evolution in reporting that WBCSD and its members want to see in response to the increasing complexity of the reporting landscape, alongside external perspectives from leading regulatory and voluntary voices.
Three addendum reports explore distinct aspects of reporting:
The role of risk and governance in internal decision-making and external disclosure;
How sustainability strategy and target-setting is evolving as we approach 2020; and
The future of digital reporting and emerging technologies.
Key findings from this year’s Reporting matters research include:
Reporting is improving
88% of member companies in our benchmark have improved their overall scores since baseline year 2015; 38% have improved their materiality score in this timespan.
The state of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) reporting
95% of the reviewed reports acknowledge the SDGs in some way; 86% prioritize specific SDGs and present some evidence of alignment and contribution.
The state of integrated reporting
39% of reports reviewed combine financial and non-financial information, up from 26% in 2015; 20% are self-declared integrated reports.
The state of GRI reporting
87% of reviewed reports reference the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI); of those, 77% claim to be in accordance at core or comprehensive level.
Governance is improving
37% of the 123 companies in the sample, with ESG data on Bloomberg Terminals, link sustainability performance and executive remuneration, broadly aligned with 39% in the 2018 sample.