FLASH REPORT: 85% of S&P 500 Index® Companies Publish Sustainability Reports in 2017


Governance & Accountability Institute (G&A) has analyzed index companies’ sustainability reporting activities since 2011. Our research over the past seven years shows that corporate reporting on sustainability -- including environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance and achievements -- continues to be a consistent, reliable standard for the largest and most influential companies in the US capital markets.

“Sustainability reporting” rose dramatically from 2011, when roughly 20% of companies published reports, to 72% just three years later in 2013. From 2013 to 2017, the frequency of reporting has increased each year, now up to 85% of companies reporting in 2017.

This enhanced and expanded corporate disclosure and structured reporting underscores the importance and value of considering corporate ESG issues when planning growth strategies, allocating capital, managing resources and communicating results to stakeholders such as customers, employees, and shareholders.

NEW YORK--()--The G&A research team has found that 85% of the companies in the S&P 500 Index® published sustainability or corporate responsibility reports in 2017.

Significance: The S&P Index is one of the most widely-followed barometers of the US economy and conditions for large-cap public companies in the capital markets.

In charting prior years reporting, G&A researchers found that:

  • During the year 2011, just under 20% of S&P 500 companies reported on their sustainability, corporate social responsibility, ESG performance and related topics and issues;
  • In 2012, 53% of S&P 500 companies were reporting -- for the first time a majority;
  • By 2013, 72% were reporting — that is 7-out-of-10 of all companies in the popular benchmark;
  • In 2014, 75% of the S&P 500 were publishing reports;
  • In 2015, 81% of the total companies were reporting;
  • In 2016, 82% signaled a steady embrace by large-cap companies of sustainability reporting;
  • And in 2017, the total rose to 85% of companies reporting on ESG performance.

As 2018, just 15% of the S&P 500 were NOT publishing sustainability reports. The practice of reporting by the 500 companies is holding steady with minor increases year-after-year. Click here to view the chart representing the trends of S&P 500 sustainability reporting over the last seven years: http://www.ga-institute.com/fileadmin/ga_institute/images/FlashReports/2018/G_A-Flash-S_P500-Chart-2018_600px.jpg


Louis Coppola, EVP & Co-Founder of G&A Institute designs and managed the annual analysis; he notes: "One of the most powerful driving forces behind the rise in reporting is an increasing demand from all categories of investors for material, relevant, comparable, accurate and decision-useful ESG disclosure from companies they invest in. Mainstream investors constantly searching for larger returns have come to the conclusion that a company that considers their material Environmental, Social, and Governance opportunities and risks in their long-term strategies will outperform and outcompete those firms that do not. So it's just a matter now of following the money."

"The proliferation of ESG data providers, rankers, and raters has also matured alongside the demand from investors, and more disclosure from companies. While our study shows there are still holdouts not reporting, the number steadily shrinks each year as an increasing number of stakeholders demand consideration of ESG in companies mission and strategy setting ."

Hank Boerner, Chairman & Co-Founder of the Institute, observed: "We are in a period of conflicting views on critical issues, such as the effects of climate change, the quest for greater diversity and inclusion, the importance of environmental stewardship, rising expectations for greater accountability of leaders of our institutions, expectations related to product responsibility, and a host of other topics related to corporate accountability.

“It should be very encouraging to all stakeholders that the largest publicly-traded companies in the United States of America clearly recognize their societal responsibilities and strive now to develop strategies, fine-tune their programs, engage with their stakeholders, improve their overall ESG performance, and enhance their disclosure by publishing sustainability/responsibility/citizenship reports.


Click the link to view chart presenting the number of companies from each GICS* sector that are choosing not to report on their sustainability opportunities, risks, strategies, actions, programs, and achievements -- implying no focus on sustainability with comparisons from 2014 through 2017: http://www.ga-institute.com/fileadmin/ga_institute/images/FlashReports/2018/G_A-Flash-S_P500-Diminishing-US-Corporate-NonReporters_600px.jpg

Governance & Accountability Institute's GRI Data Partner Report Analyst Research Team of talented analyst interns made significant contributions to this research and we recognize and salute them here: http://www.ga-institute.com/fileadmin/ga_institute/images/FlashReports/2018/G_A-Flash-S_P500-ResearchTeam_600px.jpg


Founded in 2006, G&A Institute, Inc. is a sustainability consulting firm headquartered in New York City, advising corporations and investors on executing winning strategies that maximize return on investment at every step of their sustainability journey. The G&A consulting team helps corporate and investor clients recognize, understand and address sustainability issues to address stakeholder and shareholder concerns.

G&A Institute is the Data Partner for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in the US, UK, and Republic of Ireland. The G&A team performs this pro bono work on behalf of GRI. Over more than seven years, G&A has analyzed more than 6,000 sustainability reports and catalogued hundreds of important data points for these reports.

G&A’s sustainability-focused consulting and advisory services fall into three main pillars: Sustainability/ESG Consulting; Communications and Recognitions, and Investor Relations. Click here to learn more: https://www.ga-institute.com/services.html

ABOUT THE *S&P 500®: www.spdji.com


Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc.
Louis D. Coppola, 646-430-8230 ext 14
EVP & Co-Founder

Release Summary

G&A Institute research over the past 7 years shows that sustainability reporting is now up to 85% of companies reporting in 2017.


Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc.
Louis D. Coppola, 646-430-8230 ext 14
EVP & Co-Founder