Submit Content
Get the latest delivered to your inbox
Privacy Policy

Surprising Trends in Sustainability Reporting

Research shows US lagging Europe despite better revenue returns with strong reporting practices

Published 09-06-17

Submitted by Centre for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE)

The Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) announces its second annual research of Sustainability Reporting Trends in North America 2017. This report presents 2015-2016 trends from 551 companies from the United States and Canada, many from the Fortune Global 500.  The report is intended for stakeholders including investors, business leaders, company boards, CSR and sustainability professionals, NGOs and customers.  New this year, research includes a comparative analysis of companies that publish sustainability reports with the highest scores in CSRHub, a global sustainability ratings agency.

The report examines company and organization sectors, size and ownership.  It reviews reporting practices, external assurance practices, the presence of carbon footprint metrics and financial performance. The report describes over 20 trends specific to North America, broken down between the USA and Canada.

Key Take-Away

The most significant finding of Sustainability Reporting Trends in North America 2017 is that companies with the highest rankings on CSRHub had better financial performance than companies with lower rankings during the period 2014-2016.  These companies have recognized the importance of a comprehensive sustainability reporting strategy that includes goals and externally assuring performance information and data.

Other key trends include:

The sectors with the highest reporting presence are Energy and Energy Utilities, Financial Services, Food & Beverage, and Mining.  As noted in CSE’s 2016 report on Silicon Valley, tech firms are surprisingly under-represented.

Most of the companies publishing a sustainability report for 2015-2016 were public companies (79.2% in the U.S. and 79.0% in Canada).  The global presence of Large and Multinational Enterprise operations makes reporting sustainability performance a necessity to keep their social and environmental license to operate.  Small-Medium Enterprises represent only 5.1% from the U.S. and 8.0% from Canada. 

The use of specific guidelines for reporting is growing, adding value, integrity, transparency, and reliability to reports. Of the many guidelines available, 65% of companies use the Reporting Guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

In North America, the majority of reports following reporting guidelines have not sought external assurance, compared to 50% of global reporting companies and organizations.  The percentage of North America companies seeking assurance has not grown since 2014.

Adoption of the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) has proceeded slowly in North America. However, 41% of businesses are expected to embed SDGs into their strategy and business practices within five years, and 71% of businesses say they are already planning how they will incorporate the SDGs.

Carbon footprint reduction has become a priority among companies with the highest Sustainability Ranking.  Most of the companies have well-stated and measured goals and targets found in their reports and websites.

Report findings will be presented at CSE’s Sustainability Practitioner Program (Advanced Edition 2017) in Toronto and San Diego.  CSE research informs the continuous updates of the online specialized courses offered by the Sustainability Academy.

Download the report


The Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) specializes in global sustainability consulting, coaching and training.  CSE has trained over 5,000 professionals, many from the Fortune Global 500.  CSE is accredited by CMI (Chartered Management Institute) and is a GRI certified training provider. The Sustainability Academy offers affordable, specialized online education in sustainability and corporate responsibility.  The Academy ambitiously plans to train 100,000 sustainability practitioners by 2020!

Contact: Rosalinda Sanquiche,

Centre for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE) Logo

Centre for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE)

Centre for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE)

CSE is a global Leading network providing Sustainable Development Solutions to organizations & a Think Tank with offices in Brussels Athens & Dubai. CSE cooperates with international organisations, such as the EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management), GRI (Global Reporting Initiative), UN Global Compact (United Nations Global Compact), EBEN (European Business Ethics Network), Forum for International Communications and the European Commission. CSE supports, on their journey towards sustainability, leading organizations such as Lloyds TSB, Eurocontrol, Dell, BP, DHL, Lafarge (Aget Heracles), Mc Cain, Bank of Cyprus and many others including the European Investment Bank, the largest financial Investment Institution of the European Union and the Government of Dubai (Dubai Center for Corporate Values ,DIFC, TECOM, DAFZA). The global presence of CSE is enhanced by numerous activities carried out in many countries/regions including the United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Russia, China and the Middle East.

More from Centre for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE)

Join today and get the latest delivered to your inbox