By Sarita Nayyar Managing Director; Chief Operating Officer, USA, World Economic Forum
- ESG - Environmental, Social and Governance - reporting is increasingly essential – and even required.
- Yet, without definitive standards, sustainability reporting remains complex – and a barrier to progress.
- Ahead of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos 2022, business leaders provided insights on how companies can track and deliver on ESG promises.
There are, allegedly, $2.7 trillion in assets now managed in more than 2,900 ESG funds. No wonder the FT’s Gillian Tett describes auditors and accountants as suddenly “wildly trendy”.
Despite growing momentum toward a coherent system for corporate disclosure, tracking and measuring ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) commitments and performance remains uneven.
Academics at MIT Sloan School of Management say the lack of standardization on ESG scoring is leading to “aggregate confusion,” according to a recent report. This calls for greater attention to how the data underlying ESG ratings is generated.
The World Economic Forum’s Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: Towards Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation, launched in 2020, enabled businesses to track their contributions towards the SDGs on a consistent basis. But confusion persists.
Brightstar’s Maha Eltobgy and Janine Guillot from the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) explain: “For too long, markets around the world have been ill-equipped to efficiently price the risks and opportunities related to a raft of shared social and environmental challenges, from climate change and resource constraints to economic inequality and racial injustice. To ensure resilience and drive towards progress, a coherent, comprehensive system of corporate disclosure is needed.”
We’re seeing signs of movement in this direction. The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), established at COP26 to develop a comprehensive global baseline of sustainability disclosures for capital markets, has launched a consultation on its first two proposed standards. The final requirements are expected to help meet the information needs of investors in assessing enterprise value.
Ahead of the Forum’s 2022 Annual Meeting in Davos, we asked business leaders how they are navigating the current complexities of ESG reporting and delivering on sustainability promises – here’s what they said.
'Document the financial impact of non-financial indicators'
Daniel Schmid, Chief Sustainability Officer, SAP SE
For business leaders to make appropriate decisions for a company’s long-term success, they need access to comprehensive data and performance metrics that go beyond only financial measurements. This non-financial data enables holistic steering and reporting, providing the visibility required to mitigate negative ESG impact and increase positive ESG impact.
The broad range of reporting frameworks and standards, as well as national and transnational regulations, presents spiralling complexity which limits the ability to compare performance across companies and industries. Consolidation is needed to avoid ESG reporting becoming an end in itself and distracting companies from investing their resources in sustainable value creation.
Double materiality assessments enable leaders to regain focus by identifying a company’s key social and environmental impacts to be addressed. Additionally, applying an impact measurement methodology like that from the Value Balancing Alliance allows the calculation of ESG impacts in monetary terms which can be integrated into business decision-making.
Documenting the financial impact of non-financial indicators has helped SAP move closer to achieving our sustainability goals. The approach paves the way to achieving goals like our commitment to net-zero emissions by 2030. Our impact measurement experiences also feed into our investments in digital technology and solutions, such as the SAP Sustainability Control Tower, to provide transparency and reporting with greater speed and accuracy.
Image: World Economic Forum
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KEYWORDS: SAP, World Economic Forum, Davos, NYSE: SAP