Our annual in-depth review of corporate sustainability / ESG reporting trends is here and available for your reading. In our 2021 report, you will find detailed analysis of the reporting trends of the S&P 500® Index and Russell 1000® Index companies, which shows that ESG reporting is increasingly being adopted by mid-cap companies.
This is the 10th anniversary of G&A’s annual research on sustainability reporting trends of the largest U.S. publicly-traded companies. Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc. was established in 2006-07 by a team who had worked together at other firms. We have been focused on corporate disclosure, structured reporting, and the increasing transparency of publicly-traded firms (willing or not!) for several decades. The adoption of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and Dodd-Frank (DF) rules brought many changes to corporate disclosure in the years following their passage and significantly shaped the work we do with companies.
Our firm’s launch coincided with the morphing of what had been “socially responsible investing” (SRI) into today’s “sustainable and responsible investing” and with the emergence of more cohesive forms of evaluating a company’s corporate sustainability, citizenship, social responsibility… the format we recognize today as “ESG.”
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) noticed our work in analyzing and publicly sharing considerable information about best practices in corporate reporting and in 2010 invited G&A to be its Data Partner for the U.S., U.K., and Republic of Ireland. The work we did in collecting and analyzing literally thousands of corporate reports from 2010 to 2020 helped us in our work with companies, helped GRI to expand its visibility and appeal to the American corporate sector, and helped corporate managers who selected the GRI framework for their reporting.
And a special thank you to Mike Wallace (then head of GRI operations in the U.S.) for helping to make this happen!
As we gathered and analyzed corporate sustainability reports, we paid close attention to the companies included in the S&P 500 Index® – the preferred benchmark for the majority of asset managers. In 2011, we released our first report analyzing the sustainability reporting of the S&P 500 companies for the publication year 2010, which showed that just 20% published sustainability reports or disclosures. Our 2021 report shows that 92% of the S&P 500 companies published a sustainability report in 2020, demonstrating that corporate sustainability reporting is clearly a best practice for the largest companies.
Two years ago, we expanded our research to the next 500 largest public companies in market cap size, as represented in the Russell 1000® Index -- another very important benchmark for investors. This was a heavy lift for our research team, and for our 2021 report the COVID-19 crisis created its own headwinds.
The results of the in-depth research of our great research team are now available in the “2021 Sustainability Reporting in Focus” trends report. We will stop the backgrounding here and invite you to dive into the report to do your own analysis. It is our Top Story of the week. Please do let us know your comments and questions as you examine the trends.
Our annual reports have wide readership and long shelf life and have proved useful in informing corporate sustainability managers as they develop their own company’s sustainability report. It has been a long and rewarding journey for us, these past 10 years of “deep diving” on U.S. corporate sustainability / ESG reporting trends – thank you to all who have followed us as we shared the annual reports with you. And so let us know how we can improve the 2022 report – now underway!