SASB’s provisional standards development process was designed to facilitate broad participation and the objective consideration of all stakeholder views. The following principles have guided SASB’s decision making and served as a checklist against which to compare tangible progress. The principles have also guided 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.
Please note: SASB is updating its Conceptual Framework and has issued two additional proposals intended to lay a foundation for its ongoing standard-setting work. An exposure draft of the revised Conceptual Framework is available on the SASB Public Comment Portal, along with a second governance document, the Rules of Procedure, and proposed amendments to the SICS industry classification system. SASB welcomes feedback on all three documents throughout the 90 day public comment period.
The performance metrics included in all provisional standards issued by SASB meet the following set of minimum criteria:
- Relevant: The metric adequately describes performance related to the disclosure topic, 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 disclosure topic.
- Directional: The metric provides clarity about whether an increase/decrease in the numerical value signals changed performance.
- Verifiable: The data underlying the metric can be verified.
The disclosure topics included in SASB provisional standards are:
- Applicable to all investors. SASB publishes standards on an issue if and only if the evidence base indicates the issue is likely to constitute material information 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 assess the reasonable likelihood that a sustainability issue will have material impacts, 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 verifiable.
- Objective and support decision making. SASB ensures, insofar as possible, the neutrality of information resulting from its standards. Neutral data emphasizes material information 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 whether resulting information will be useful, cohesive, and reasonably likely to be material.
- Determined to support the shift to integrated reporting. SASB standards are designed for the disclosure of material sustainability information in Form 10-K and 20-F filings, 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 the usefulness of information.
- To provide clear, transparent and timely communications, striving to keep the public informed of important developments regarding SASB’s activities, standard-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.