Meyer Frucher, vice chairman at NASDAQ OMX said, "Creating a corporate sustainability reporting standard across all exchanges will encourage a shift in how companies assess the importance of their efforts in environmental, social and governance issues. It is a win-win for both companies and investors, encouraging sound business practices and responsible investing." Investors are being asked to review and comment on the paper's recommendations by May 1, 2013. Once comments are considered and key issues are incorporated, the final document will be submitted to stock exchanges for consideration at the World Federation of Exchanges annual meeting in October.
Gwen Le Berre, vice president of corporate governance and responsible investment at BlackRock, an international investment manager with $3.8 trillion in assets under management said, "Stock exchanges can play a leadership role in moving ESG disclosure practices forward. We believe that this proposed listing standard strikes a good balance between investors' need for consistent and comparable ESG information, and companies' need for flexibility."
INCR director and Ceres president Mindy Lubber, whose organization convened the listing standards consultation said, "Investors are increasingly frustrated by the lack of sustainability disclosure across markets, and how inconsistent that data is even within the same industry. We can solve this problem by bringing investors together on standards that make such information comparable and useful. This paper is the result of such discussions." The Consultation Paper calls for the following disclosures by companies as part of a listing standard:
- Materiality assessment: An assessment in annual financial filings where company management will discuss its approach for determining the company's material ESG issues and the outcomes of such an assessment.
- Sustainability table of disclosures: Provide a hyperlink in annual financial filings to a Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Content Index. Such disclosure will let investors know if key ESG information exists, and if so, its exact location and the completeness of the data.
- Improved corporate ESG disclosure: Companies must provide reporting on a "comply or explain" basis for eight key ESG categories. They can either provide such disclosures or explain why they are not.
- Climate change: greenhouse gas emissions and reduction initiatives, physical risks and opportunities
Investor companies participating on the INCR Listing Standards Drafting Committee included: Rockefeller & Co. Sustainability & Impact Investing Group; Boston Common Asset Management; Pax World Management LLC; Rockefeller & Co. Sustainability & Impact Investing Group; Domini Social Investments LLC; BlackRock; F&C Management Ltd.; British Columbia Investment Management Corporation; AFL-CIO Office of Investment; and F&C Management Ltd.