Flash Report: 82% of the S&P 500 Companies Published Corporate Sustainability Reports in 2016

May 31, 2017 3:30 PM ET

NEW YORK, May 31, 2017 /3BL Media/ — In the sixth annual monitoring and analysis of S&P 500 Index® company sustainability reporting, just completed by theGovernance & Accountability Institute research team, the findings are that eighty-two percent (82%) of the companies included in this important investment benchmark published a sustainability or corporate responsibility report in the year 2016.

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.

To put this in context, in charting prior years reporting, G&A found that:

  • in the year 2011, just under 20% of S&P 500 companies had reported on their sustainability, corporate social responsibility, ESG performance and related topics & issues;
  • in 2012, 53% (for the first time a majority) of S&P 500 companies were reporting;
  • 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% signals a steady embrace by large-cap companies of sustainability reporting.

As we entered the year 2017, just 18% 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. The graph attached represents the trends of S&P 500 sustainability reporting over the last six years.

Louis Coppola, EVP & Co-Founder of G&A Institute, who designs and coordinates the annual analysis, notes:  "Year after year we continue to see that corporations are reporting on their ESG performance and related issues.  We also see that there are some companies that continue to ignore the growing demands of their stakeholders and shareholders. 

"However, the pressure is on!  While searching for sustainability information on the non-reporters, more often than not, the first result on Google was an investor proxy resolution requesting for the company to start reporting on its management of ESG issues.  These non-reporting companies are feeling the pressure from other stakeholders such as employees and customers as well."

"As reporting standard setters and frameworks continue to evolve rapidly, leading reporters are continuously working to integrate the latest concepts into their strategy making and reporting.   These leaders are seeing dramatic benefits from their efforts and are also increasingly engaging with investors to help make ESG data more strategically useful for decision-making by both company management, stakeholders and investors."

Hank Boerner, Chairman & Co-Founder of the Institute, observed:  "As we continue to see this steady level in US corporate sustainability and responsibility reporting, we are wondering what the thinking is in the non-reporting enterprises.  These companies are now clearly laggards in this important peer group (the S&P 500), which is a very important benchmark for institutional investors.  Are these companies not recognizing the significant range of benefits that accrue to their more sustainable peers? 

"Do they not understand the rising expectations of stakeholders seeking much more comprehensive information about their company's ESG performance?  At the least, the companies seem to be firmly resistant to the demands of shareholders for more information about their ESG policies and performance."

The Diminishing Missing Among US Corporate Sustainability Reporters
The chart attached presents the number of companies from the sectors in our annual S&P 500 study 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 2016.  

Governance & Accountability Institute's GRI Data Partner Report Analyst Research Team of talented interns contributed significantly to this research and we recognize and salute them here (see attached table).

Governance & Accountability Institute Training, Coaching & Workshops
In response to the rising demand for corporate sustainability knowledge and the rapidly rising embrace of ESG integration to investment decision making, the Institute offers a range of industry-leading training opportunities for corporate managers and investment professionals. For more information, go to:  http://www.ga-institute.com/training.html

About Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc.
Founded in 2006, G&A Institute is a sustainability consulting firm headquartered in New York City, advising corporations in executing winning strategies that maximize return on investment at every step of their sustainability journey.  The G&A consulting team helps corporate and investment community clients recognize, understand and address sustainability issues to address stakeholder and shareholder concerns.  G&A Institute is the exclusive Data Partner for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in the USA,  UK and Republic of Ireland.  A G&A team of six or more perform this pro bono work on behalf of GRI. Over the past 6-plus years, G&A has analyzed more than 5,000 sustainability reports in this role and databased more than 100 important data points for each of the thousands of reports.

G&A’s sustainability-focused consulting and advisory services fall into three main buckets: Sustainability/ESG Consulting; Communications and Recognitions, and Investor Relations.  The resources available within each bucket include strategy-setting; sustainability/CSR reporting assistance; materiality assessments; stakeholder engagement;  ESG benchmarking; enhancing investor relations ESG programs; investor engagement; investor ESG data review; sustainability communications; manager coaching; team building; training;  advice on third party awards, recognitions, and index inclusions; ESG issues monitoring and customized research.

*S&P 500®
According to S&P Dow Jones Indices / McGraw Hill Financial: “The S&P 500® is widely regarded as the best single gauge of large cap US equities.  There is over US$7 trillion benchmarked to the index, with index assets comprising approximately US$1.9 trillion of this total. The index includes 500 leading companies and captures approximately 80% coverage of available market capitalization.”  The S&P 500 is a trademarked® property of S&P Dow Jones Indices, McGraw Hill Financial. Ticker: SPX

Louis Coppola 

Executive Vice President & Co-Founder 
Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc. 
Tel 646.430.8230 ext 14  
Email lcoppola@ga-institute.com