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Welcome to the fifty-second edition of my weekly blog. In volume II (Week 51 onwards) I look at what some of the most sustainable companies in the world are doing to be better corporate citizens.
This week I take a look at the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), the SASB Foundation, and the work they are doing to measure and promote better reporting of sustainability performance by publicly listed companies through the publication of sustainability accounting standards. What better way to do this than by using a simple A – Z guide to SASB:
An A – Z of SASB
A Accounting Standards Board, according to their website, The SASB Foundation “is responsible for the financing, oversight, administration and appointment of the SASB”. SASB is “an independent standards board that is accountable for the due process, outcomes, and ratification of the SASB standards, including any changes to the standards going forward”.
B Board of Directors, the 19 strong board of SASB includes Bloomberg founder and former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, he is chair of the board. Former chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Mary Schapiro and CEO of Perella Weinberg Partners Robert Stell are the co-vice chairs of the board.
C Conceptual Framework, just like any other accounting standard’s conceptual framework, SASB’s framework provides an overarching structure that guides the standard-setting process from formulation of objectives to the standardized presentation of topics (criteria) and metrics (principles).
D Disclosure Topics, SASB uses a standard set of principles when evaluating each topic for potential inclusion in their standards:
E Exposure Drafts, the exposure drafts are proposed changes to the provisional standards devised by SASB for 79 industries between 2012 and 2016. The exposure drafts were put forward for public comment between October 2017 and 31 January 2018.
F Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting (FSA) credential, the FSA credential is earned after a candidate successfully passes two levels of examination. The credential links the materiality of sustainability factors with company performance.
G Governance Documents, SASB has two key governance documents, being the conceptual framework (see above) and the rules of procedure (see below).
H Highlights, highlights of what can be accessed through the navigator tool (see below) are company disclosures by topic and peer comparison. The disclosure topics include greenhouse gas emissions and air quality performance.
I Investor Advisory Group (IAG), SASB’s IAG is made up of 29 asset owners and asset managers who support and promote the need for consistent and material reporting of ESG information by listed companies in order to enhance decision making.
J Jarislowsky Fraser, Dan Hanson from Jarislowsky Fraser is one of the founding members of the IAG. Jarislowsky Fraser are headquartered in Montreal and last month it was announced that Scotiabank acquired this respected investment house for CAD $950 million.
K KKR, New York headquartered Investment firm KKR is one SASB’s 37 Alliance Organizational Members (see below).
L Library, SASB has a library on its website containing guides, insights and corporate communications relating to sustainability accounting and the standards.
M Materiality Map, SASB has created a materiality map that assesses how likely an issue is to an industry from a sustainability perspective. 30 issues are covered across five headings:
N Navigator tool, the tool grants you access to sustainability information on 79 industries, and over 400 sustainability topics, 4,000 corporate public filings, 9,000 pieces of evidence, and 275,000 excerpts from public filings.
O Organizational Members, The organizational members of the SASB alliance share best practice and insights on the disclosure of sustainability information. They also champion the integration of sustainability into capital markets.
P Provisional Standards, the provisional standards were designed for 79 industries between 2012 and 2016. The standards consist of disclosure guidance and accounting standards on sustainability topics used by US and Non-US public companies who file annual returns with the SEC in the US. The exposure drafts (see above) have proposed changes to the provisional standards. Final standards will be released in mid-2018.
Q Questions, if you have any queries about SASB or The SASB Foundation you can find contact details here.
R Rules of Procedure (ROP), ROP forms part of SASB’s governance documents. ROP “establishes the processes and practices followed by the SASB in its standards-setting activities, and in its governance and oversight of related processes and practices undertaken by its staff”. It describes SASB’s organizational structure and provides an overview of the standard-setting process.
S San Francisco, SASB is headquartered in San Francisco, California.
T Technical, SASB’s library includes technical publications on:
U UL EHS Sustainability, UL EHS Sustainability are one of five companies who have designed tools that capture and report company performance against the SASB standards.
V Value, Potential to affect corporate value is one of the principles used when assessing disclosure topics (see above) for inclusion in the SASB standards
W Webinars, SASB has published all past webinars it has delivered on sustainability accounting and the standards on its website.
X Xesturgy (polishing), SASB is currently working through all the feedback received when the exposure drafts were open to public comment. The provisional standards will then be updated and polished with final standards published in mid-2018.
Y Yardstick, SASB’s standards, data sets, materiality map and navigator tools provide companies with a strong yardstick to aid them in benchmarking their sustainability accounting performance against industry peers.
Z Zero emissions, using SASB’s standards can help companies meet zero emissions and carbon neutral goals.
Next week’s blog will feature three gas & electricity sector companies and the measures they have taken to be more sustainable.
If you liked this article you might enjoy reading the following information:
Week 51 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Brief overview of the goals
United Nations Development Programme: Sustainable Development Goals
ACCA: The Sustainable Development Goals: redefining context, risk and opportunity
World Benchmarking Alliance: Corporate Sustainability Performance