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SASB: Quality trumps locations for sustainability disclosure

The location of sustainability data disclosures is not as important as ensuring the data is of sufficient quality, The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) has found.

Prior to the release of its complete set of codified standards on financially material topics later this year, the SASB consulted with companies and investors in the market in order to gain feedback and insights on the provisional standards.

The SASB found companies were sharing their data with investors in numerous ways. Some chose to include SASB standards in its regulatory filings, whilst other companies opted for an online sustainability report or an annual report to its shareholders.

Overall, the SASB said it found that it did not matter where the company disclosed its sustainability data so long as the quality of the data was sufficient. 

This should include high quality, investor-grade data, and the governance and control environment around these disclosures should resemble that used for traditional financial reporting, the Board said.

 

International Ambitions

The other significant lesson learnt is that many of its stakeholders perceived SASB to be solely focused on the US, because of its language over the years.

Despite this, it said it has always believed that the SASB standards are relevant beyond US borders, because they are industry-based, not country-based.

For example SASB Foundation president Matthew Welch noted: “The material issues facing an industry in Germany or Japan are not fundamentally different from those in the US. SASB standards focus on sustainability information that is financially material—a fundamental concept important to investors and companies around the world,” in a release.

SASB has been trying to change this US-centric perception and in turn respond to a growing global demand for an interest in SASB’s work.

An example of this is the formation of the newly formed SASB Sector Advisory Groups, which it hopes will help it solicit more global market input. 

SASB released its first provisional reporting standards five years ago. The standard was created specifically for companies to communicate with its investors on financially material sustainability topics.

 

By Mishelle Thurai

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