SASB’s standards development process facilitates broad participation and the objective consideration of all stakeholder views. The following principles guide SASB’s decision making and serve as a checklist against which to compare tangible progress. The principles also guide external stakeholders overseeing SASB’s work, including the Standards Council and Board of Directors. For more context on SASB’s standards development methodology, please read our Conceptual Framework.
All standards issued by SASB meet the following set of minimum criteria:
- Relevant: The metric adequately describes performance related to the material issue, or is a proxy for performance.
- Useful: The metric 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 metric 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 changed performance.
- Auditable: The data underlying this metric can be verified.
SASB issues standards that are:
- Applicable to all investors. SASB publishes standards on an issue if and only if the evidence base indicates the issue is material across constituencies.
- Pertinent and relevant across an industry. SASB only publishes standards on issues that present robust evidence for being systemic and/or endemic to the industry.
- Focused on driving value creation. In addition to using evidence to determine materiality, SASB uses research and industry working group findings to ascertain the link of each standard with long term value creation, valuation and/or risk mitigation.
- Expected to bring benefits that exceed the perceived costs. The perceived costs a SASB standard imposes, compared with possible alternatives, are justified in relation to the overall expected benefits.
- Actionable by companies. SASB standards are within the control or influence of companies and industries.
- Easily verified. SASB standards are measurable, quantifiable when possible, comparable, replicable and auditable.
- Objective and support decision making. SASB ensures, insofar as possible, the neutrality of information resulting from its standards. Neutral information emphasizes material issues rather than value judgments.
- Highest quality possible at any given time. SASB standards are developed using a consistently applied framework, clear language and the detail necessary to support replicable disclosure from company to company.
- Reflective of the views of stakeholders. SASB actively solicits input and carefully weighs all stakeholder views. 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.
- Determined to support the shift to integrated reporting. SASB standards are designed for the disclosure of material sustainability issues in the Form 10-K and 20-F, financial disclosure mechanisms currently required by the SEC.
- Determined to support the convergence to international accounting standards. SASB considers the usefulness of its standards to existing disclosure and reporting frameworks around the world.
SASB upholds 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.
- To provide clear, transparent and timely communications, striving to keep the public informed of important developments about SASB’s activities, standards setting processes and public comment periods.
- To assess the ‘real world’ application, reviewing the effects of SASB standards and amending or replacing standards in a timely fashion, if warranted.