Relevant Issues (5 of 26)
The SASB Standards vary by industry based on the different sustainability risks and opportunities within an industry. The issues in grey were not identified during the standard-setting process as the most likely to impact enterprise value, so they are not included in the Standard. Over time, as the SASB Standards Board continues to receive market feedback, some issues may be added or removed from the Standard. Each company makes their own determination about whether or not a sustainability issue may impact its ability to create enterprise value. The Standard is designed for the typical company in an industry, but individual companies may choose to report on different sustainability issues based on their unique business model. Why are some issues greyed out?
- GHG Emissions
- Air Quality
- Energy Management The category addresses environmental impacts associated with energy consumption. It addresses the company’s management of energy in manufacturing and/or for provision of products and services derived from utility providers (grid energy) not owned or controlled by the company. More specifically, it includes management of energy efficiency and intensity, energy mix, as well as grid reliance. Upstream (e.g., suppliers) and downstream (e.g., product use) energy use is not included in the scope.
- Water & Wastewater Management
- Waste & Hazardous Materials Management
- Ecological Impacts
- Human Rights & Community Relations
- Customer Privacy
- Data Security The category addresses management of risks related to collection, retention, and use of sensitive, confidential, and/or proprietary customer or user data. It includes social issues that may arise from incidents such as data breaches in which personally identifiable information (PII) and other user or customer data may be exposed. It addresses a company’s strategy, policies, and practices related to IT infrastructure, staff training, record keeping, cooperation with law enforcement, and other mechanisms used to ensure security of customer or user data.
- Access & Affordability
- Product Quality & Safety
- Customer Welfare
- Selling Practices & Product Labeling
- Labor Practices The category addresses the company’s ability to uphold commonly accepted labor standards in the workplace, including compliance with labor laws and internationally accepted norms and standards. This includes, but is not limited to, ensuring basic human rights related to child labor, forced or bonded labor, exploitative labor, fair wages and overtime pay, and other basic workers' rights. It also includes minimum wage policies and provision of benefits, which may influence how a workforce is attracted, retained, and motivated. The category further addresses a company’s relationship with organized labor and freedom of association.
- Employee Health & Safety
- Employee Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion The category addresses a company’s ability to ensure that its culture and hiring and promotion practices embrace the building of a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the makeup of local talent pools and its customer base. It addresses the issues of discriminatory practices on the bases of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors.
Business Model & Innovation
- Product Design & Lifecycle Management The category addresses incorporation of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations in characteristics of products and services provided or sold by the company. It includes, but is not limited to, managing the lifecycle impacts of products and services, such as those related to packaging, distribution, use-phase resource intensity, and other environmental and social externalities that may occur during their use-phase or at the end of life. The category captures a company’s ability to address customer and societal demand for more sustainable products and services as well as to meet evolving environmental and social regulation. It does not address direct environmental or social impacts of the company’s operations nor does it address health and safety risks to consumers from product use, which are covered in other categories.
- Business Model Resilience
- Supply Chain Management
- Materials Sourcing & Efficiency
- Physical Impacts of Climate Change
Leadership & Governance
- Business Ethics
- Competitive Behavior
- Management of the Legal & Regulatory Environment
- Critical Incident Risk Management
- Systemic Risk Management
The General Issue Category is an industry-agnostic version of the Disclosure Topics that appear in each SASB Standard. Disclosure topics represent the industry-specific impacts of General Issue Categories. The industry-specific Disclosure Topics ensure each SASB Standard is tailored to the industry, while the General Issue Categories enable comparability across industries. For example, Health & Nutrition is a disclosure topic in the Non-Alcoholic Beverages industry, representing an industry-specific measure of the general issue of Customer Welfare. The issue of Customer Welfare, however, manifests as the Counterfeit Drugs disclosure topic in the Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals industry. What is the relationship between General Issue Category and Disclosure Topics?
Disclosure Topics (Industry specific) for:
Multiline and Specialty Retailers & Distributors
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Energy Management in Retail & Distribution
Companies in this industry require significant amounts of energy for their retail facilities and warehouses. Sustainability factors—such as the increasing number of GHG-emissions regulations, incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy—are leading to price increases in conventional electricity sources while making alternative sources more cost-competitive. Fossil fuel-based energy production and consumption contribute to significant environmental impacts, including climate change and pollution. Decisions regarding energy sourcing and type, as well as the use of alternative energy, can create trade-offs related to the energy supply’s cost and reliability for operations. It is becoming increasingly important for companies to manage their overall energy efficiency, and their access to alternative energy sources. Efficiency in this area can have financial implications through direct cost savings, which are particularly beneficial in this low-margin industry.
Consumers trust retail companies with their financial and personal data every time they make a noncash transaction. Credit cards and debit cards have steadily eclipsed cash and checks as consumers’ preferred payment methods. In these noncash transactions, retailers build up a relationship of trust with consumers, assuring them of the safety of their personal information. Data breaches can occur both through breaches of the physical payment technology, called point-of-sales breaches, as well as through cyber attacks. As consumers become more educated about the threats of cybercrime, particularly in the wake of continued high-profile attacks, having a reputation as a secure company is increasingly important to maintain or gain market share. Retailers that prevent major data breaches can also avoid harming brand value and reduce liabilities.
Retail’s significance to the U.S. economy as a major employer means that it is also often at the center of public labor-practice discussions. This can have serious reputational implications for companies in the industry whose performance on labor relations is poor. The low-average wages in the industry, which help companies maintain low prices on products, may increase these labor-related risks. Since customers regularly interact directly with employees, companies can face a decrease in market share and revenue from negative consumer sentiment due to public disagreement between companies and their workers. Companies can enhance labor productivity and employee engagement by taking a long-term approach to managing workers in areas such as compensation and workers’ rights. In addition to mitigating risks, improvements in labor productivity can help strengthen a company’s reputation and reduce its cost of capital.
Employee Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion
Workforce Diversity & Inclusion
The Multiline and Specialty Retailers & Distributors industry is consumer-facing and relies on the ability to communicate effectively with customers during the sales process and adapt to changing consumer demands for products. As the populations of many developed markets undergo a massive demographic shift, including increases in minority populations, companies in this industry can benefit from ensuring that their company culture and hiring and promotion practices embrace the building of a diverse workforce at management- and junior-level positions. Retailers that respond to this demographic shift and employ staff who will be able to recognize the needs of diverse populations may be better able to capture demand from segments that have traditionally been overlooked, which can provide companies a competitive advantage. Furthermore, such companies may benefit from decreased legal and regulatory risks, as well as improved reputational value.
Product Design & Lifecycle Management
Product Sourcing, Packaging & Marketing
Companies in the Multiline and Specialty Retailers & Distributors industry sell a wide array of products including electronics, clothing, furnishings, and cosmetics, which all have varying environmental and social impacts throughout their lifecycles. The size and subsequent buying power of many companies in this industry allow them to work with their suppliers to source products and packaging with lower lifecycle environmental and social impacts. Companies that perform well in this regard may benefit from increased customer demand and improved margins. Taking a proactive approach to engaging suppliers, using certification standards, and reducing the environmental impacts of packaging are strategies commonly employed by companies in the industry.
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