Importance of CSR reporting driven home during event hosted by Sustainable Pittsburgh: "Setting the Stage for High Performance Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Identifying Materiality in Your Business Sector"
Submitted by: BrownFlynn
Posted: Nov 19, 2014 – 09:00 AM EST
CLEVELAND, OH, Nov. 19 /CSRwire/ - On November 5th, business professionals were given a first-hand look at the growing trend of integrating sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting with traditional financial reporting, as seen on national and global market exchanges during a workshop hosted by Sustainable Pittsburgh at the Fairmount Pittsburgh.
Since 2009, the market size for CSR information has tripled. Now, decisions on how to allocate $1.3 trillion in global assets are being made using sustainability and CSR criteria.
During her keynote, Su Gao, Senior Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Analyst for Bloomberg LP, highlighted an average annual growth of 41.5% in unique users of Bloomberg ESG data from 2009 to 2013. Bloomberg provides decision makers the data, analytics, news, and insight related to global business and financial information.
“A notable trend we’ve observed recently is the rise in demand for ESG data from mainstream investors,” said Gao, “this is beyond the more niche, SRI or ‘socially responsible investing’ with missions already aligned with ESG integration. There is an increasing number of investors starting to consider ESG factors in allocation decisions to more actively manage long-term ESG risk in their portfolios.”
Mike Wallace, also a keynote speaker and Managing Director of BrownFlynn, a corporate responsibility and sustainability consulting firm, said, “It is no longer a matter of whether you are going to measure, manage, and disclose your CSR performance—it is when your company is going to do it. Then the question is how you disclose it—using your own approach, or adopting an internationally-recognized approach for disclosing, such as the GRI.”
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) provides a framework for standardized sustainability/CSR reporting. Mr. Wallace, formerly the Director of GRI’s North America operations, helped to more than double to use of the GRI across North America. Pittsburgh’s largest employers have either fully adopted this method of measuring, managing, and reporting their sustainability performance, or are referencing GRI to help them identify their most material issues. As awareness grows among the world’s biggest companies, so does the demand on suppliers to step up and report on their own sustainability performance.
During the event, representatives from UPMC, Alcoa, and BNY Mellon shared their companies’ approaches toward identifying sustainability issues that are material to their business’ operations as well as examples. With all trends pointing to even more rapid demand for CSR information, the impacts will be felt first by publicly-traded companies. Because of supply chain and customer chain impacts, private firms will need to be aware of these trends too. Municipal governments are also on a trajectory for being affected through the growing inclusion of sustainability information in the municipal bond markets.
“The Pittsburgh region has shown tremendous progress in the uptake of sustainability practices in its private and public sectors in terms of best operational practices,” said Matthew Mehalik, Sustainable Pittsburgh Program Manager. “Future success in Pittsburgh’s sustainability achievements will require preparing for the coming shift in the access and allocation of capital based on sustainability and CSR performance information.”
For businesses operating in southwestern Pennsylvania, Sustainable Pittsburgh, through its Champions for Sustainability (C4S) business network, offers sustainability reporting programs to help them get started and grow their sustainability and CSR initiatives. The Southwestern Pennsylvania Sustainable Business Compact provides a credible and rigorous pathway for businesses to advance and publicly demonstrate their corporate sustainability achievements. The Compact contains over 170 sustainable actions (called sustainable essentials) among 12 major sustainability categories, including resource efficiency, economic prosperity, governance, and equity, among others. The essentials are grouped according to difficulty to implement, and degree to which they reflect outward recognition of performance. Different point levels are assigned according to the degree of difficulty and outward recognition. The Compact has also been designed to help users align their sustainability efforts with globally accepted frameworks like GRI, CDP and SASB.
The first four businesses to achieve the Compact’s base level of Challenger, in order of completion, are Thar Energy, Eat'n Park Hospitality Group, PITT OHIO, and Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies’ Pittsburgh Office. Highmark is the first to achieve the Leader level of recognition, the next step above Challenger and requiring more transparent reporting, and UPMC is the first to achieve the Champion level, which requires even greater evidence to substantiate sustainability claims.
Founded in January 1996, BrownFlynn is a leading, award-winning corporate responsibility and sustainability consulting firm. The Firm advises Fortune 500 and privately-held companies to focus on what’s most important, such as understanding their landscape, setting their direction, telling their story, and engaging their stakeholders. As the first U.S.-certified training partner of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), BrownFlynn conducts a variety of training sessions online and around the country on topics related to sustainability strategy, reporting, and trends. To learn more visit brownflynn.com.
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