NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--For almost a decade, Governance & Accountability Institute (G&A) has been closely tracking the trends in sustainability reporting and disclosure activities of the publicly-traded companies included in the S&P 500® index. These reports are also sometimes titled as responsibility, citizenship, or ESG reports.
This universe of business enterprises represents more than 80% of the outstanding equity of the largest U.S. companies. The large-cap S&P 500 is used by thousands of global investment community players for the selection of equities by index managers, and by managers in a range of asset classes.
G&A’s annual research series began nine years ago with the analysis of sustainability reporting activities for publication year 2011, when we found just about 20% of the S&P 500 companies were publishing a sustainability report. G&A has found the volume of reporting has steadily increased each year since 2011 and the contents of the reports dramatically expanded over time. By 2012, more than half (53%) of the companies were publishing reports. That percentage grew to 75% by 2014 and to 86% by 2018.
In the just-completed 2020 research, examining 2019 reporting activities, G&A determined that 90% -- 9-of-10 companies in the S&P 500 were publishing a sustainability report.
The 2020 research report features a breakdown of non-reporters by sector, those utilizing commonly used frameworks and standards (GRI, SASB, TCFD), those aligning with the UN SDGs, and examines trends in external assurance and survey reporting (CDP, CSA/DJSI).
An example of this year’s research findings includes:
- 51% of the S&P 500 reporting companies use GRI
- 14% of S&P 500 reporters presented alignment with SASB
- 5% of S&P 500 reporters presented alignment with TCFD
- 36% of S&P 500 reporters presented alignment with specific UN SDGs
- 29% of S&P 500 reporters utilized external assurance
- 65% of S&P 500 companies respond to CDP
Read the full report for more comprehensive reporting breakouts and details on the S&P 500.
Louis Coppola, EVP/Co-Founder, designer/manager of all the annual analyses explains: “We began this year’s research before the COVID-19 pandemic. We were expecting to see significant growth in company reporting, especially in response to exponentially increasing demand from investors and we did. As the pandemic has unraveled, study after study has proven the value of ESG/Sustainability as ESG investments outperformed the market during the crisis. Through our 9 years of research on the S&P 500, not only has sustainability reporting grown among the largest companies in the U.S., it has also become more sophisticated, mature, and decision-useful for investors/stakeholders. With these contexts, we are excited to see this year’s results.”
Hank Boerner, Chairman/Chief Strategist/Co-Founder, adds: “Over our years of research, we have seen a steady expansion of reporting in response to important drivers. These drivers include peer pressure, increasing demand from investors and other important stakeholders for greater disclosure of the corporate ESG strategies, actions, and achievements. This has led to a drive within the corporate sector to achieve industry leadership, gain a competitive advantage -- and very important, to excel in the competition for capital. We would ask the remaining 10% of non-reporters in the S&P 500 universe, what are you waiting for?”
Elizabeth Peterson, Senior Sustainability Analyst, who oversees and supervises the talented research team, comments: “This year G&A’s annual analysis was elevated to the next level. Our team dove much deeper into our S&P 500 research, including examining the use of reporting standards/frameworks such as GRI, SASB, and TCFD. We were able to identify which sectors are outperforming and which sectors are lagging in the percentage of published sustainability reports. We believe the team’s findings on reporting trends for the publication year 2019 will be welcomed by the investment community and the corporate sector.”
ABOUT THE G&A RESEARCH TEAM
G&A proudly recognizes our research team who made significant contributions to this study:
- Research Supervisor: Elizabeth Peterson, G&A Senior Sustainability Analyst;
- Team Leaders/G&A Sustainability Analysts: Reilly Sakai and Julia Nehring;
- Analyst-Interns: Lama Alaraj, Sarah El-Miligy, Kelly Mumford, Sofia Yialama, and Binyu Zhao.
To read the full report, go to: