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 Standards Implementation Primer. Additionally, a number of case studies and Q&As with reporting companies may provide useful insights on getting started. Finally, it may be valuable to review the disclosures of other SASB Standards reporters in your industry.

For an entity that operates in multiple industries, more than one industry Standard may be required to address the full array of sustainability topics reasonably likely to impact the entity’s ability to create enterprise value. One company that operates across eight SICS industries shared its approach in the SASB Standards 201 implementation webinar. Please consult the SASB Standards Application Guidance and "Understanding SASB Standards" within the SASB Standards Implementation Primer for further information.

Not necessarily. Companies may opt to use SASB Standards to disclose information through a variety of channels used to communicate with investors, including annual reports to shareholders, integrated reports, sustainability reports, stand-alone 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 Standards Implementation Primer. For examples of how companies use SASB Standards in a variety of reporting channels, see Companies Reporting with SASB Standards.

A company determines for itself which SASB Standards are relevant to it, which disclosure topics represent significant risks and/or opportunities, and which associated metrics to report. When a company determines that a sustainability topic is relevant to its business objectives, SASB 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” subsection within the SASB Standards Implementation Primer. Informed by extensive investor feedback, SASB 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 represent a significant risk or opportunity; and/or
  • Not necessarily include every sustainability factor that is relevant to a reporting company.

The SASB Standards Application Guidance recommends that a company disclose its rationale when it omits or modifies a SASB metric.

When choosing to include additional topics in its disclosure, a company should consider providing a narrative describing why the topic is important and reviewing other SASB industry standards in which the topic is covered to ensure performance metrics are well-aligned with those commonly in use.

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

No. Companies are responsible for determining which SASB disclosure topics represent significant 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.

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

No. as an independent standard-setter, the IFRS Foundation and does not provide advisory services. The reporting entity is responsible for determining which sustainability issues are most likely to represent significant risks or opportunities and which information to disclose.

SASB Standards are designed to identify sustainability topics most likely to be considered by investors in their assessments of enterprise value (positively or negatively) over the short, medium or long term for the typical company within a particular industry and develop high-quality, comparable disclosures 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.

An integrated report is a concise communication about how an organization’s strategy, governance, performance and prospects, in the context of its external environment, lead to the creation, preservation or erosion of value in the short, medium and long term.

SASB Standards provide the disclosure topics and accounting metrics needed to accurately assess the effectiveness of a business’s governance, strategic planning and risk management, enabling better comparability and accountability. Likewise, the Standards enable the communication of performance on sustainability risks and opportunities in greater detail and with greater comparability.

For more information, read “Strengthening an Integrated Report Using SASB Standards” and the “Complementary Tools: Using the Integrated Reporting Framework and SASB Standards Together” paper.

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 Standards in markets around the world. For current statistics about worldwide use of SASB Standards, please review Global Use of the Standards and the updated list of SASB Standards reporters.

A company is best positioned to determine which Sustainable Industry Classification System® (SICS®) industry (or industries) most accurately represents its business and, therefore, which SASB Standard (or Standards) to use in making disclosures to investors. If you are unable to find your company or think the SICS® classification for your company needs to be reviewed, please contact us. 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 contact us (select 'SASB reporter website listing' as the issue type).

Although we monitor use of SASB Standards, we do not collect reported information and do not require that companies notify us 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, and preferably, use the SASB metric codes. If your company has already done so and you do not see your organization listed within a month, please contact us (select 'SASB reporter website listing' as the issue type).

No, a company does not need to pay a fee to disclose information using SASB Standards. All 77 industry-based SASB Standards are available to download free of charge on sasb.org for non-commercial use, such as disclosure to investors or for use in academic research.

Programs are available 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. 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, register for the exam, and browse FAQs on the FSA website.