Creating a Better Understanding in the Sustainability Reporting World

By: Alexandra Kueller

Recently, the SSC team attended US SIF's annual conference in Washington DC which focused on sustainable and responsible investment. The discussion topics covered a wide range of issues – from finance and investing to sustainability. One of the discussions that piqued our interest was a conversation on measuring and reporting sustainability factors in portfolio performance.

Below are some takeaways from the discussion that we thought you might find interesting:

Is sustainability reporting truly an “apples to apples” comparison?

  •  When reading over sustainability reports, it is very easy to take Company A and try and compare it to Company B. But are those two companies really on the same playing field? Often, different industries will report different metrics or benchmarking goals. It is important to remember NOT to try and extrapolate data and project it.

Harmonization is needed

  •  Take a look at the sustainability reports out there. Do you see any similarities? There’s not a lot of commonality between reports, which can further cause us to blindly compare reports. By using well known platforms, such as GRI and CDP, it allows for more harmonization between reports.

Move beyond disclosure to context

  • If you want a strong sustainability report, it is key to move past just the “disclosure” phase and move into the “context” phase. Providing information about the metrics and data will give the report the details needed to beef up and strengthen your report.

Understand that change is incremental

  •  Everyone knows that change does not happen overnight. So why do we find ourselves hoping for dramatic change in data from year to year in sustainability reporting? Yes, we all want to see change, but if you enter with the right mindset – true change can take between 3-5 years – this can help create a better framework for your reporting (and allow yourself to set more appropriate goals!).

You can read more about our time at the US SIF conference here.