The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) have announced a collaborative work plan, in response to global demand for clarity on sustainability reporting.

SASB and GRI acknowledged that the reporting effort can be high for companies which use both their standards. To address this, the two organisations will collaborate to demonstrate how some companies have used both sets of standards together and the lessons that can be shared.

The organisations also aim to help consumers of sustainability data understand the similarities and differences in the information created from these standards.

Initially the collaboration will focus on delivering communication materials to help stakeholders better understand how the standards may be used concurrently. These resources are planned to be delivered before the end of 2020.

GRI and SASB expect that this can lead to the identification of further collaboration opportunities.

GRI CEO Tim Mohin said: “GRI and SASB share the guiding principle that transparency is the best currency for creating trust among organisations and their stakeholders. Investors, policy makers, civil society and other stakeholders are demanding improved disclosure of information on sustainability impacts, including those likely to drive risk and opportunity in both the short and long term.”

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SASB CEO Janine Guillot said: “In a post-Covid-19 world, companies will increasingly be expected to disclose their performance on a range of ESG topics. The pandemic has demonstrated that so-called ‘non-financial’ information can indeed highlight material financial implications. This makes the collaboration between SASB and GRI, and the increased clarity it will bring for all stakeholders, all the more timely.”

GRI and SASB provide compatible standards for sustainability reporting, which are designed to fulfil different purposes and are based on different approaches to materiality:

  • SASB’s industry-specific standards identify the subset of sustainability-related risks and opportunities most likely to affect a company’s financial condition (e.g., its balance sheet), operating performance (e.g., its income statement) or risk profile (e.g., its market valuation and cost of capital). 
  • The GRI Standards focus on the economic, environmental and social impacts of a company, and hence its contributions – positive or negative – towards sustainable development. Users of the GRI Standards identify issues that are of primary importance to their stakeholders. If not already financially material at the time of reporting, these impacts may become financially material over time. They provide both the framework and supporting standards on a wide range of sustainability topics and are aligned with international instruments for responsible business behaviour.