Using SASB Standards

A good place to start is reviewing the SASB Standard(s) for your industry (or industries), the SASB Standards Application Guidance, and the SASB Implementation Primer. Additionally, SASB has provided a number of case studies and Q&As with reporting companies that may provide useful insights on getting started. Finally, it may be valuable to review the disclosures of other SASB reporters in your industry.

For companies that straddle multiple industries, more than one industry Standard may be required to address the full array of sustainability topics reasonably likely to impact a firm’s ability to create enterprise value. One company that operates across eight SICS industries shared its approach in the SASB 201 edition of our Implementation Webinar Series. Please consult the SASB Standards Application Guidance and the SASB Implementation Primer for further information.

Not necessarily. Companies may opt to disclose SASB data through a variety of channels used to communicate with investors, including annual reports to shareholders, integrated reports, sustainability reports, stand-alone SASB reports, investor relations websites, and regulatory filings. The best choice will depend on the company’s circumstances and the laws and regulations that govern the company’s disclosures. For more information, see “Deciding Where to Disclose” within the SASB Implementation Primer. For examples of how companies use SASB Standards in a variety of reporting channels, see Companies Reporting with SASB Standards.

SASB does not prescribe disclosure requirements. A company determines for itself which SASB Standards are relevant to it, which disclosure topics are financially material to its business, and which associated metrics to report. When a company determines that a sustainability topic is financially material to its business, SASB’s voluntary standards offer a way to standardize disclosure on that topic, for the benefit of both companies and investors. 

For more information on determining which disclosure topics and associated metrics to disclose, see the “Determine Which Disclosure Topics are Applicable” section of the SASB Implementation Primer. Informed by extensive investor feedback, SASB’s Standards Application Guidance recommends that when a company omits or modifies a SASB metric, it should disclose its rationale for doing so. 

SASB Standards are designed to address sustainability factors that are applicable to the typical company within an industry. In some cases they may:

  • Include topics that, for certain companies, may not be financially material; and/or
  • Not necessarily include every sustainability factor that is financially material to a reporting company.

SASB’s Standards Application Guidance recommends that when a company omits or modifies a SASB metric, it should disclose its rationale for doing so. 

When choosing to include additional topics in its disclosure, a company should consider providing a narrative describing why the topic is important; reviewing other SASB industry standards in which the topic is covered to ensure performance metrics are well-aligned with those commonly in use; and contacting the relevant SASB sector analyst to provide feedback on whether the topic should be included in the SASB Standard and why.

For more information, see the “Understanding SASB Standards” section of our Implementation Primer.

No. Companies are responsible for determining which SASB disclosure topics represent material risks or opportunities for their business and which associated metrics warrant disclosure, taking the company’s business model, business strategy, and relevant legal requirements into account. A company can make a disclosure using the SASB Standards and, in doing so, state that it has not concluded that the information is financially material.

SASB is an independent standard-setter and does not provide advisory or assurance services. We recommend that reporting companies seek the advice of professional consultants, assurance providers, and/or their legal counsel when preparing disclosures in accordance with SASB Standards. For technical questions about how to interpret or apply the Standards, contact SASB's technical staff.

No. SASB is an independent standard-setter and does not provide advisory services. It is the responsibility of the reporting entity to determine which sustainability issues are most likely to have material impacts on its business and which information to disclose.

SASB’s standard-setting process is designed to identify:

  • Sustainability topics most likely to materially impact enterprise value (positively or negatively) over the short, medium, or long term for the typical company within a particular industry; and
  • Accounting metrics to help standardize disclosure on such topics for use by investors and other providers of financial capital.

As such, SASB Standards may serve as a useful input to a company’s approach to assessing materiality, enterprise risk management, or other internal deliberations that may influence communications with investors. 

Yes. Businesses and investors around the world use SASB Standards to better identify, manage, and communicate the financially material sustainability risks and opportunities they face. There is strong, growing support for SASB in markets around the world. For current statistics about worldwide use of SASB Standards, please review Global Use of the Standards.

A company is best positioned to determine which SICS industry (or industries) most accurately represents its business and, therefore, which SASB industry Standard (or Standards) to use in making disclosures to investors. If you are unable to find your company or think the classification needs to be reviewed, please contact us using our classification request form. The more information you provide, the more quickly we will be able to process your reclassification request.

A list of SASB reporters can be found on the Companies Reporting with SASB Standards page, where users can filter by industry, sector, country, year and more and click through to view a company’s report. If your company uses SASB Standards in communications with investors but is not listed, please let us know

Although we monitor use of SASB Standards, we do not collect reported information and do not require that companies notify SASB when they use the Standards. Nevertheless, we appreciate companies notifying us when they have made disclosures using the Standards and welcome their feedback. To be listed among the Companies Reporting with SASB Standards, companies must reference their use of SASB Standards in their disclosures. If your company has already done so and you do not see your organization listed within a month, please contact us.

No, a company does not need to join the SASB Alliance or pay any other fee to disclose information using SASB Standards. SASB is a nonprofit organization established to connect businesses and investors on the financial impacts of sustainability. All 77 industry-specific SASB Standards are available to download free of charge on the SASB website for non-commercial use, such as disclosure to investors or for use in academic research.

However, we also have programs for commercial uses of the Standards, such as integrating them into investment strategies or reporting software. These fee-based programs help ensure that the businesses that benefit from the Standards help facilitate their maintenance through financial support of SASB. For more information, please see Licensing Use.

Yes. The Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting (FSA) Credential is designed for professionals who benefit from understanding the link between material sustainability information and a company’s financial performance. The majority of test takers are professionals in investment analysis, consulting, and sustainability. Find out more about the FSA community, review sample test questions, and register for the exam here. (See also: FSA Frequently Asked Questions.)