The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (“SASB”) offers this Implementation Primer as a reference document for companies that have chosen to integrate SASB standards into their core communications with investors.
A company can use the Primer, along with the SASB standards, to:
Effective implementation of SASB standards may require integrating sustainability more fundamentally into existing processes and practices related to governance, strategic planning, risk management and performance management. In this way, organizations can build culture and capacity to better ensure they meet their strategic, operational, compliance, and reporting objectives.
For corporate reporting to effectively support decision makers, companies must identify key audiences and understand their sustainability information needs. SASB standards are designed to meet the needs of providers of capital, such as shareholders and creditors. SASB standards are complementary to and may be used in conjunction with other frameworks focused on multiple audiences.
Companies communicate with investors in many different ways, all of which may be appropriate channels for using SASB standards. Companies opt to disclose SASB data through a variety of channels, including annual reports to shareholders, integrated reports, sustainability reports, stand-alone SASB reports, and investor relations websites.
Each company is unique and therefore must make its own determinations about the sustainability risks and opportunities it faces and the disclosure standards most relevant to its circumstances. Understanding how SASB standards are structured—including industry classifications, topic descriptions, and metric specifications—can help your company more effectively identify, manage, monitor, and report on key sustainability challenges.
Many companies that already collect sustainability information find they have a shorter-than-expected path to robust external reporting. By comparing existing metrics to SASB standards and evaluating data collection platforms and internal controls, companies can determine the most efficient path toward reporting readiness.
Information is most effective when it is presented in a way that supports meaningful analysis and decision making. Organizations should consider how SASB standards can help them disclose quantitative and qualitative information in a way that best communicates the company’s long-term value creation story.
As an emerging practice, effective sustainability disclosure is likely to be the product of an ongoing, iterative process. Companies can establish formal feedback loops that inform their efforts to continuously improve investor-focused sustainability disclosure and ensure they provide decision-useful information to providers of capital.
This Primer is primarily intended for corporate professionals responsible for a company’s external reporting efforts. Members of sustainability, accounting, audit, finance, investor relations, legal, and risk functions are likely to find it useful in assessing and improving how their company measures, manages, and discloses performance on the sustainability factors that are linked to financial performance and long-term value creation.