New Report Shows an Increase in Companies Publishing Sustainability Reports Compared to 2018

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by | Oct 26, 2020

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Governance & Accountability Institute (G&A Institute), a consulting and research firm focused on ESG and sustainability, issued its 2020 Russell 1000 Research Report on sustainability reporting trends of the companies in the Russell 1000 Index. The research found:

  • 65% of the companies included in the Russell 1000 published sustainability reports in 2019, an increase from 60% in 2018.
  • 90% of the largest 500 companies by market cap in the index published sustainability reports in 2019, an increase from 86% in 2018.
  • The number of companies publishing reports in the smaller 500 companies by market cap also increased, with 39% publishing reports in 2019, up from 34% in 2018.

This research by G&A Institute on the Russell 1000 expands on our annual studies, conducted for the last nine years, of sustainability reporting trends of the companies included in the S&P 500 Index. It is important to note that the S&P 500 Index and Russell 1000 Index overlap, as they are market capitalization weighted indices that contain roughly the largest 500 and 1000 publicly-traded companies in the US, respectively. This means that the largest half of the Russell 1000 generally mimics the S&P 500.

Hank Boerner, Chairman & Co-Founder of G&A, said, “The dramatic increase in sustainability reporting that we have seen over the past five years in large-cap US companies is beginning to be seen in smaller companies, as represented in our research on the smaller half of the Russell 1000 Index. Public companies of all sizes are responding to increased adoption of ESG and sustainable investing strategies by institutional investors, including pension funds and mutual funds.”

Louis Coppola, EVP & Co-Founder of G&A, said, “While sustainability reporting by mid-cap and small-cap public companies has lagged behind that of large-cap companies, our research shows that reporting by smaller companies is accelerating. We expect this trend to continue and we look forward to continuing our research on important trends in sustainability reporting.”

Significant findings of G&A Institute’s 2020 Russell 1000 Research Report include:

  • 65% of Russell 1000 companies published sustainability reports in 2019
  • 47% of the reporting companies used the widely accepted GRI Standards
  • 23% of the reporting companies in some way referenced or aligned with SASB
  • 14% of the reporting companies mentioned or aligned with the TCFD, while 4% of those reported with detailed alignment
  • 41% responded to CDP Climate Change questionnaire
  • 32% of the reporting companies presented alignments with the SDGs

This comes at a time when public trust in sustainability reporting is rising sharply, as Energy + Environmental Leader reported recently. A survey from GlobeScan and GRI asked 1,000 people in each location to indicate whether they agree that companies are honest and truthful about their social and environmental performance. The level of trust is the highest since the survey began in 2003, when it was at 30%.

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