FLASH REPORT: 86% of S&P 500 Index® Companies Publish Sustainability Reports in 2018

New York, New York, UNITED STATES

G&A Research Highlights:
G&A Institute has analyzed index companies’ sustainability reporting activities since 2011.  “Sustainability reporting” rose dramatically from 2011, when roughly 20% of companies published reports, to 72% just three years later in 2013. From 2013 to 2017, the frequency of reporting increased each year, now inching up to 86% of companies reporting in 2018.

NEW YORK, May 16, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Governance & Accountability Institute’s (G&A) research team determined that 86% of the companies in the S&P 500 Index® published sustainability reports in 2018. This research effort marks G&A Institute’s eighth annual monitoring and analysis of sustainability reporting of the large-cap companies in the S&P 500 Index®.

This means that just 14% of the S&P 500 failed to publish sustainability reports. The practice of reporting by the S&P 500 companies is holding steady with minor increases year after year.  
View Chart Representing S&P 500 Sustainability Reporting Trends Over Eight Years

Louis Coppola, G&A’s EVP & Co-Founder, who designs and manages the annual analysis, explains: "Investors are expecting and even demanding greater corporate ESG disclosure today.  This trend has been on a steady trajectory upward and we see the response by S&P 500 companies in our research from 2011 reporting through to 2018. 

"The announcements from prominent investor services organizations of acquisitions and mergers in the ESG investor rating space is another strong signal of the demand from their investor clients.   In 2019, the influence of the universe of ESG investor data providers has never been greater.  In response, an increasing number of corporations are now engaging to review their corporate ESG data sets and improve their corporate ESG investor profile, strategy and disclosures.  This process of increased engagement is rewarding for all -- companies, investors and the ESG raters and data providers

“Our research clearly shows there is a continually shrinking group of reporting holdouts among the S&P 500.  Interestingly, when searching for a non-reporters sustainability report, often the first search results are copies of proxy resolutions from investors asking the company to improve ESG disclosure.  The pressure is on!  There is a lot to lose! Non-reporters are falling further behind their competitors every year that they fail to report.”
Hank Boerner, G&A’s Chairman & Co-Founder, observes: "The original focus of what today is the integrated approach of ESG began with corporate governance -- the ‘G’.  Over time that focus expanded to include a range of environmental and societal issues.   The ‘G’ focus conveys the importance of leading from the top, the board room and C-suite, on ESG strategies and oversight.

“We are seeing the intensifying focus on ESG among an ever-widening body of fiduciaries.  For example, many more RFPs provided to asset management firms by asset owners are asking for information about their ESG practices.

“The trends we have tracked in S&P 500 reporting is now moving down the market-cap pyramid to companies in the Russell 1000 and even the Russell 2000.  The S&P 500 companies are the corporate sector top leaders in ESG reporting, striving to explain their strategies, expanding their governance and oversight, engaging with their investors and stakeholders, and enhancing their disclosure.”

The Dwindling Non-Reporters Among Us Corporates (view chart) presents the number of companies from each GICS* sector that do not publicly report on sustainability between 2014 and 2018 -- implying no visible organized focus on corporate sustainability and ESG performance.

Governance & Accountability Institute's proudly recognizes our research team of talented analyst interns who made significant contributions to this study – Minalee Busi, Jessica Caron, Emilie Ho, Jess Peete – lead by Team Leader/Senior ESG Analyst Elizabeth Peterson. For more information on our GRI Data Partner Report Analyst Research Interns, click here.

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Founded in 2006, G&A Institute is a sustainability consulting and research firm headquartered in NYC, advising corporations and investors on executing winning strategies that maximize return on investment at every step of their sustainability journey. The G&A consulting team helps corporate and investor clients recognize, understand and address sustainability issues to address stakeholder and shareholder concerns.

G&A Institute is the Data Partner for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in the U.S., U.K., and Republic of Ireland. The G&A team performs this pro bono work on behalf of GRI. Over more than eight years, G&A has analyzed more than 7,000 sustainability reports and catalogued hundreds of important data points for these reports.

The S&P 500® is widely regarded as the best single gauge of large cap US equities.

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