Sustainability Accounting Standards Board
|Focus||Sustainability accounting standards|
The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board was founded in 2011 to develop and disseminate sustainability accounting standards. While the FASB has for the past forty years developed the accounting principles currently used in financial reporting in the United States, other social and environmental measures are now understood to be of relevance. The SASB aims to integrate its standards into the Form 10-K which must be filed by public companies with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; in this sense it differs from initiatives such as the GRI, by working within the current system of financial regulation. The general principle is, in Peter Drucker's phrase, "what gets measured gets managed".
SASB appointed Robert K. Steel as its Chair of the Board of Directors in 2018 replacing former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg who had served from 2014-2018. Mary Schapiro, former SEC Chair, is the Vice Chair.
SASB was founded in 2011 by Jean Rogers, who originated the concept and served as the organization’s first CEO. SASB is a non-profit that seeks to create industry sustainability standards for the disclosure and recognition of financially material environmental, social, and governance impacts of publicly traded US companies. Its mission to develop standards for use in corporate filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission was reflective of the concept first presented in the academic paper "From Transparency to Performance: Industry-Based Sustainability Reporting on Key Issues", written by Rogers, Steve Lydenberg, and David Wood in 2010. The intention was to provide investors with greater information about the stocks they or their investment funds were investing in, and to allow investors and financial analysts to compare performance on critical social and environmental issues within an industry.
The structure of the organization and the name SASB was selected in order to complement the work of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, FASB. The founding chair of the SASB was Robert Eccles. Initial funding for the organization came from private donors. In 2017 the organization underwent a governance change to establish a governance board and a technical board, called the standards board, in order to better align its structure with traditional financial standards setting organizations such as FASB and IASB. Rogers was appointed the first Chair of the SASB Standards Board.
The SASB aims to meet the need for industry-specific reporting standards, to ease comparison and benchmarking. In order to do so, a Sustainable Industry Classification System covering ten sectors and 80+ industries has been devised. From Q4 2012, industry-specific working groups are to convene to pursue the goal of completing the standards within two and a half years. Key performance indicators will then be updated annually. There is recognition that establishing what is material in information that is fundamentally non-financial is complex.
SASB IAG Members
Investors increasingly acknowledge that environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors can impact a company’s ability to manage risk and deliver financial performance over the long-term. As such, many investors use ESG information to develop a comprehensive view of company performance and to help evaluate a company’s long-term value. Investors can play an important role in enhancing disclosure effectiveness by expecting companies to disclose performance on material ESG factors and by participating in the development of disclosure standards. Accordingly, SASB has created an Investor Advisory Group (IAG). The IAG comprises leading asset owners and asset managers who are committed to improving the quality and comparability of sustainability-related disclosure to investors, and represent a combined total of more than $21 trillion USD assets under management (AUM).
The following entities have agreed to become founding members of SASB's IAG as of March 2018:
- Aberdeen Standard Investments
- APG Asset Management
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch
- BC Investment Management Corp.
- BlackRock Inc.
- Breckinridge Capital Advisors
- California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS)
- California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS)
- Calvert / Eaton Vance
- Capital Group International
- Domini Impact Investments, LLC
- Goldman Sachs Asset Management Co., Ltd.
- Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd
- Morgan Stanley Investment Management
- New York City Employees' Retirement System
- Nordea Asset Management
- Northern Trust Corp
- Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP)
- Oregon State Treasury (OST)
- Perella Weinberg Partners
- PGGM Investments
- State Street Global Advisors
- Sustainable Insight Capital Management (SICM)
- TIAA Global Asset Management
- UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust
- UBS Asset Management
- Vanguard Group
- Walden Asset Management
- Wells Fargo & Co.
- Wespath Investment Management
During development SASB is to be funded by grants and donations, with the aim to be self-financing thereafter through intellectual property licensing, education and training. Backers include Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Rockefeller Foundation.
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