Sustainability Disclosure Landscape

SASB Standards can provide an industry-specific set of climate-related disclosure topics and associated metrics to help a company more effectively implement TCFD disclosure. Investors have increasingly coalesced around a combination of the TCFD recommendations and SASB Standards as foundational tools to provide capital markets with effective climate- and sustainability-related financial disclosure. This pairing recognizes that such disclosure should contain both qualitative disclosures and quantitative metrics.

  • Qualitative information, like that recommended by the TCFD regarding a company's approach to governance, strategy, and risk management, provides essential context to investors, helping them more fully understand the company’s current position, future prospects, and the relevant circumstances under which performance has been achieved.
  • Quantitative metrics, like those included in SASB Standards, introduce essential elements of accountability and comparability to climate-related financial disclosure. They shed important light on the effectiveness of a company’s governance practices, its strategy, its approach to risk management, and its progress toward key performance targets. Quantitative metrics also facilitate comparison to peers or industry benchmarks.

For more information about how the TCFD framework and SASB Standards fit together, see the TCFD Implementation Guide, TCFD Good Practice Handbook, and SASB Climate Risk Technical Bulletin.

Five framework and standard-setting organizations—CDP, CDSB, GRI, IIRC and SASB—have put forth a shared vision for a comprehensive corporate reporting system and a commitment to collaborate to achieve it. The joint statement presents common language and visuals to describe how existing sustainability standards and frameworks can complement generally accepted financial accounting principles (Financial GAAP) and can fit together to form the basis for a coherent and comprehensive corporate reporting system. Read more about the joint statement and its significance. 

As outlined in the joint statement, these five frameworks and standards offer complementary approaches. However, each framework and standard is designed for a unique set of stakeholders and objectives. In SASB’s view, companies can use different frameworks and standards to develop a system of disclosure tailored to the unique needs of their stakeholders.

Companies can use SASB Standards to provide a baseline of investor-focused sustainability disclosure. For example, SASB Standards can be used by companies as a practical tool for implementing the principles-based framework recommended by the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Similarly, SASB Standards enable robust implementation of the Integrated Reporting (<IR>) framework, providing the comparability sought by investors. Other sustainability-related disclosure frameworks serve their own unique purposes, and ultimately, companies must evaluate and decide which meet the needs of their key stakeholders.

 

Within the growing field of sustainability-related disclosure, a variety of frameworks and standards have been developed to help establish a foundational layer of relevant, comparable, and reliable data from companies.

  • Disclosure frameworks provide a set of principles-based guidance for how information is structured and prepared, and which broad topics are covered.
  • Disclosure standards, like SASB Standards, provide specific, replicable, and detailed requirements for what should be reported for each topic. In other words, standards make frameworks actionable by providing comparable, consistent, reliable information.

Disclosure frameworks and standards are complementary and designed to be used together. Standards make frameworks actionable, ensuring comparable, consistent, and reliable disclosure.

SASB and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) provide compatible standards for sustainability reporting, which are designed to fulfill different purposes and are based on different approaches to materiality. SASB Standards focus on ESG issues expected to have a financially material impact on the company, aimed at serving the needs of most investors. GRI Standards focus on the economic, environmental, and social impacts of a company in relation to sustainable development, which is of interest to a broad range of stakeholders, including investors. Many companies—including ArcelorMittal, PSA Group, Diageo, and Nike—use both SASB and GRI standards to meet the needs of their audiences.

Still, SASB and GRI understand that the sustainability disclosure landscape can appear complicated, and for companies that use both sets of standards, the reporting effort can be high. To help address this, the two organizations have published a joint paper to demonstrate how some companies—including General Motors and Suncor Energy—have used both sets of standards together and the lessons that can be shared. SASB and GRI also aim to help the consumers of sustainability data understand the similarities and differences in the information created from these standards.

Yes. In fact, SASB mapped its Standards to the SDGs and found that 98 percent of the industry-specific topics included in SASB Standards are related to one or more SDG targets. Thus, SASB Standards can provide a useful tool for companies and investors to identify the SDG targets most relevant to financial performance in a given industry. This can help both companies and investors allocate financial capital and other resources to areas where the potential to influence specific SDG targets aligns with the potential to impact financial returns. When companies and investors can simultaneously achieve positive impact, reduce negative impact, and meet their financial risk-and-return targets, we call this intersection the “sweet spot.”

Although SASB is not a tool to measure progress toward achievement of the SDGs, nor to communicate a company’s contribution toward achievement of the Goals, helping companies and investors identify the “sweet spot” has the potential to unlock significant capital toward the achievement of the SDGs. Read more about the SASB-SDG mapping and SASB’s views on its capabilities in SASB’s Industry Guide to the SDGs.

SASB is not affiliated with the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) or the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). For more information on SASB’s governance structure and sources of income, see Governance.

No. SASB is an independent standard-setting organization and does not rate, rank, or evaluate the sustainability performance of companies.

SASB Standards help investors by fostering company disclosures of sustainability data that is comparable, consistent, and material to enterprise value creation. With better data, investors can better evaluate companies’ performance to inform investment and voting decisions. That said, many ratings providers and investors license SASB Standards for use in their proprietary ESG scoring tools and assessment methodologies. A full list of organizations is listed on the SASB website, with several of investor case studies highlighted in SASB’s ESG Integration Insights series. 

As capital markets increasingly recognize the important links between sustainability performance and financial outcomes, a complex and thriving ecosystem of organizations and initiatives has developed to provide a wide range of sustainability-related information and analytics. Disclosure standards, like SASB Standards, are the foundation of this ecosystem.

SASB Standards, along with other disclosure standards and frameworks, help ensure high-quality company-reported information, on which the ecosystem depends. Upon this foundation, data providers and rating agencies can build tools and resources for capital markets. To read more specific examples of how data providers and rating agencies use SASB to develop tools and market infrastructure, see Commercial Use and SASB’s ESG Integration Insights series.