Most S&P 500 Companies Now Reporting on ESG Issues

(Reuters, 18 December 2012) The number of S&P 500 and Fortune 500 companies managing and reporting performance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues more than doubled from 2010 to 2011, according to an analysis by Governance & Accountability Institute.

G&A Institute, the data partner for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in the US, UK and Ireland, says in last year’s report, 19 percent of the S&P 500 reported. In the 2012 report, the number jumped to 53 percent.

Similarly, in 2011’s report researchers found 20 percent of the Fortune 500 reported; in this year’s analysis 57 percent reported.

This means — for the first time — non-reporters are in the minority. I’d say that is substantial progress.

The 2012 study marks G&A Institute researchers’ second year examining corporate sustainability and responsibility trends by large US companies. This year’s report, 2012 Corporate ESG/Sustainability/Responsibility Reporting: Does It Matter?, focused on S&P 500 companies while last year’s report centered on Fortune 500 companies.

Among their conclusions:

…Reporting on Sustainability/ESG according to the GRI framework (on non-GRI) does not alone seem to assure or guarantee inclusion or higher rankings, but reporting does improve the chances of being recognized by credible third parties such as rating and ranking providers and equity index managers.

Further, our continued financial performance analysis shows that over the long time period companies that manage their Sustainability/ESG and report on their progress and initiatives tend to perform better in the capital markets, and appear to be given a premium by investors…

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