Note: The SASB Standards have been consolidated into the materials of the IFRS Foundation as implementation guidance. This is consistent with [draft] IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standard S1 General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information, which requires companies to consider SASB Standards to identify sustainability-related risks and opportunities and to develop appropriate disclosures. (Certain elements of SASB Standards have also been incorporated into the industry-based requirements of IFRS S2 Climate-related Disclosures.) The IFRS Foundation’s International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) encourages companies and investors to continue to support and use the SASB Standards until they are replaced by IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards. The guidance in this Implementation Primer is intended to serve as a useful reference for entities applying the SASB Standards in any context.
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.
Key Considerations for Implementing SASB Standards
A company can use the Primer, along with 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. To incorporate SASB’s industry classification, metrics, or underlying research and related content into your systems, products, or services, contact [email protected].