There has been a significant increase in the number of businesses that acknowledge global issues like climate change and human rights in their corporate reports over the last few years.
A study of more than 158 leading companies across 31 countries has found that eight in ten have improved the robustness of their sustainability reporting since 2014.
Almost nine in ten at least acknowledge the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while half map their strategies against the targets and provide evidence of activities.
It was also found that eight in ten now reference the Global Reporting Initiative, and that more than half have transitioned to the standards launched by the organisation in 2016.
Peter Bakker, CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), which carried out the study, said the rise in good practice was “only the beginning”.
“We are seeing many businesses go beyond disclosure in the areas of climate change, human rights and water,” he continued. “Many are taking action with an eye on having a global impact.”
“This is likely being driven by local regulatory changes and an evolving understanding of how to measure and value natural, social and human capital.”
The WBCSD study is part of the organisation’s annual Reporting matters review, and was co-produced by consultancy firm Radley Yeldar.
It also found that 39% of the 115 companies studied with ESG data on Bloomberg Terminals have links between sustainability performance and executive remuneration.
One-third of the corporate reports reviewed combine financial and non-financial information, up from 22% in 2014, while 18% are self-declared integrated reports.
In addition, a continued movement towards digital reporting was identified, with 53% of the companies including the bulk of their report online this year, up from 44% in 2017.
“To be successful in the long term, companies need to be able to understand and effectively disclose information on the key strategic assets that they are building, and resulting corporate performance,” WBCSD chair, Sunny Verghese, said.
“The Reporting matters project is helping business understand how to truly measure and transparently disclose performance in the context of new and emerging sustainability risks and opportunities beyond technical disclosure.”