The following principles will guide SASB’s decision making throughout our evolution and serve as a checklist against which to compare tangible progress.
Our standards development process facilitates broad participation and objectively considers all stakeholder views. This process is subject to oversight from an external Standards Council and the SASB Board of Directors. The principles guide all internal and external stakeholders who are involved in setting industry standards.
SASB WILL ISSUE STANDARDS WHEN:
- They are applicable to all investors. SASB publishes standards on an issue if and only if the evidence base indicates that the issue is material across constituencies.
- They are pertinent and relevant across an Industry. SASB only publishes standards on issues that present a robust evidence base for being systemic and/or endemic to the industry.
- They are focused on driving value creation. In addition to using an evidence-base to determine materiality, SASB strives to ascertain, through research and documentation of the Industry Working Groups, the link of each standard with long term value creation, valuation, and/or risk mitigation.
- The expected benefits exceed the perceived costs. SASB strives to determine that a proposed standard fills a significant need on the part of investors and that the perceived costs it imposes, compared with possible alternatives, are justified in relation to the overall expected benefits.
- They are actionable by the companies. They are within the control or influence of companies and industries.
- They are easily verified. SASB standards are measurable, quantifiable when possible, comparable, replicable and auditable.
- They are objective and support decision making. SASB ensures, insofar as possible, the neutrality of information resulting from its standards. To be neutral, information must report non-financial performance as faithfully as possible, emphasizing material issues rather than value judgments.
- They are of the highest quality possible at any given time. SASB strives to integrate best-in-class thinking and data availability to identify the most appropriate approaches. Standards are grounded in a consistently applied framework, clear and unambiguous language and will provide necessary detail to support replicable disclosure from company to company.
- They embody the minimum set of standard criteria which are:
- Relevant: Adequately describes performance related to the material issue, or is a proxy for performance
- Useful: Provides decision-useful information to companies and investors
- Applicable: The metric is applicable to most companies in the industry
- Cost-effective: The data are already collected by most companies or can be collected in a timely manner and at a reasonable cost
- Comparable: The data allow for peer-to-peer benchmarking within the industry
- Complete: Individually, or as a set, the indicator provides enough information to understand and interpret performance associated with the material issue
- Directional: The metric provides clarity about whether an increase/decrease in the numerical value signals improved/worsened performance
- Auditable: The data underlying this metric can be verified
- They are reflective of the views of stakeholders. SASB actively solicits input and carefully weighs all stakeholder views in developing standards. When needed, SASB acts as the final determinant of standards and bases such determination on research, industry consultation, public input, SASB’s judgment and careful deliberation about the usefulness, materiality and cohesiveness of resulting information.
- They support the shift to integrated reporting, that is to say, the inclusion of sustainability standards in financial disclosures such as the Form 10-K and 20-F. The standards are designed to be compatible with financial disclosure mechanisms currently required by the SEC.
- They support the convergence to international accounting standards, by considering the usefulness of the standards to existing efforts in disclosure and reporting frameworks in countries around the world.
SASB WILL ALSO UPHOLD THE FOLLOWING GENERAL PRINCIPLES:
- To judiciously manage standards improvements, balancing the desire to minimize disruption of accounting, financial reporting, and annual reporting with the need to improve usefulness of information. SASB balances the desire for comprehensive improvements against the need for simpler and more cost effective incremental improvements.
- To provide clear, transparent and timely communications, endeavoring at all times to keep the public informed of important developments about SASB’s operations, activities, standards setting process and timelines for public comment.
- To openly and honestly assess the ‘real world’ application of the standards and review the effects of past decisions and interpret, amend, or replace standards in a timely fashion if such action is warranted.