REPORTING STANDARDS FOR SUSTAINABILITY
Sustainability Accounting Standards Board
The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) connects businesses and investors on the financial impacts of sustainability. An independent, standardsetting organization founded in 2011, SASB’s mission is to help businesses around the world identify, manage, and report on sustainability factors that matter to investors. SASB standards are developed based on extensive feedback from companies, investors, and other market participants as part of a transparent, publicly documented process. By focusing on the sustainability factors most likely to have financially material impacts in each of 77 industries, SASB standards enable investors and companies to compare performance from company to company within an industry
TPB Note: The good news is that the conversation about 'sustainability' has grown in quantity and intensity over the past few years, but the bad news is that it can also be said that it reflects a lot of 'sound and fury signifying nothing'. My position is that the the talk is not doing enough to 'move the needle' at the pace and scale that is required. Bottom line, the standards are not enabling the quantification of performance relative to sustainability in the manner that is needed. This has to change, and this is what TrueValueMetrics (TVM) is working to do.
The independent Standards Council—comprised of experts in standards development, securities law, environmental law, metrics and accounting—oversees the development of SASB’s sustainability accounting standards. In an important independent overseer role, the Council reviews due process and quality of outcomes and ensures compliance of the standards setting process with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) guidance and SASB principles. Through working closely with SASB staff, the Council ensures that a robust and industry-focused set of standards are developed in a transparent multi-stakeholder process.
The Initiative for Responsible Investment at Harvard played a key role in the development of the Standards Council, which convenes quarterly. Reports from the Standards Council will be published on our website after each meeting, the first of which will be posted in June 2013.
Standards Council Members:
Jim Coburn, JD
Senior Manager, Investor Programs
Jim Coburn is an attorney at Ceres, where he directs efforts to improve mandatory disclosure of environmental risks and opportunities by corporations. He has collaborated with investors since 2003 to improve climate change disclosure in financial filings, leading to SEC interpretive guidance on the subject in February 2010. He has also worked with investors to ask for environmental disclosure guidance from Canadian securities regulators, which was issued in October 2010. He has developed several reports evaluating companies’ governance, performance and reporting related to climate change, and is co-author of Disclosing Climate Risks & Opportunities in SEC Filings: A Guide for Corporate Executives, Attorneys & Directors. Jim earned his law degree from Boston College Law School and BA in Government from Cornell University.
Christine Ervin has led innovative collaborations to accelerate green markets for more than twenty years.
As the first President and CEO of the U.S. Green Buildings Council, she led its evolution from a start-up organization to a coalition of industry leaders transforming the way buildings are designed, built and operated in the U.S. and abroad. Over her tenure, the Council launched and cemented acclaim for the LEED standard and Greenbuild conference and expo. As Assistant Secretary of Energy for President Clinton, she directed $1 billion in annual investments for clean technologies. Initiatives ranged from partnerships to leverage private sector investments and the EPA-DOE ENERGY STAR partnership. Previously, she directed the Oregon Department of Energy.
Christine serves on fiduciary and advisory boards for venture capital firms, start-up companies, national advocacy efforts and third party certification programs.
Jeffrey Hales, PhD,
Standards Council Chairman
Georgia Institute of Technology – Ernest Scheller Jr. College of Business
Jeffrey Hales teaches at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he is an associate professor of accounting in the Ernest Scheller Jr. College of Business. He is a graduate of the accounting program at Brigham Young University and received his Ph.D. from Cornell University. During the 2009-10 academic year, he was a research fellow at the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in Norwalk, CT. He is currently a visiting associate professor at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France and sits on the advisory board of the Financial Accounting Standards Research Initiative (FASRI).
His research interests center on accounting standard setting and regulation, individual decision making, and behavioral finance. His research has appeared in the Journal of Accounting Research, the Accounting Review and the Journal of Accounting and Economics, among others.
Director of Sustainability – Retired
McKinsey & Company
Tom Kiely retired from McKinsey & Company in January 2013, where he served as the firm’s Director of Sustainability. He was responsible for overseeing McKinsey’s environmental and carbon abatement activities and for managing emissions and CSR measurement and reporting. Also, as a senior member of McKinsey’s global communications group, Tom helped lead research and collaboration related to the role of business in society and sustainable capitalism, and shaped the firm’s communications in these areas. Prior to McKinsey, which he joined in 2000, Tom was Director of Intellectual Capital Marketing at Viant, Global Marketing Director for Authorship at Deloitte Consulting and an editor at the Harvard Business Review. He began his working career as a business journalist. In retirement, Tom continues to work on projects related to sustainability, sustainable capitalism and the role of business in society.
Gayle S. Koch
Co-founder & Principal
Axlor Counsulting LLC
Gayle Koch is co-founder and principal of Axlor Consulting LLC. She has over 25 years of consulting experience focused largely on environmental, product liability, technology and insurance related issues. Ms. Koch has worked extensively in the evaluation of environmental damages. She has served as an expert on cases involving liability estimation, allocation and cost recovery. She has experience in the estimation of environmental and product liabilities in connection with settlements, insurance claims and acquisitions. She has also worked on the evaluation of new technologies and market opportunities created by environmental regulations or changing markets.
Ms. Koch holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and a B.S. in Humanities and Engineering (in the Science, Technology and Society Program) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an M.S. in Management Science (concentrations in applied economics, corporate strategy, and management of technological innovation) from the Sloan School of Management, M.I.T.
Stephen is a strategy and sustainability consultant based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was formerly a Principal at Blu Skye, a leading consultancy, and was a consultant GreenOrder and McKinsey for eight years. His focus is on helping companies link business growth and sustainability. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Stephen attended the University of Virginia and the London School of Economics.
Mary Hartman Morris
Mary is currently an Investment Officer of Corporate Governance within the Investment Office for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS). Ms. Morris is responsible for working with a dedicated governance team to further CalPERS’ leadership role in Corporate Governance as a means of improving the Pension Systems’ long-term performance of assets under management.
Ms. Morris’ experience spans over 25 years as an Auditor, Accountant, and as a Financial Analyst in both the private and public sectors. She provides technical accounting and auditing expertise to the Investment office and to the International Corporate Governance Network’s Accounting and Auditing Practices Committee. Ms. Morris is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, and the Institute of Internal Auditors and served as a member of the Investors Technical Advisory Committee of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, and the Standing Advisory Group of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). Ms. Morris is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Internal Auditor.
Vice President – Sustainable Investing
Harvard Management Company, Inc.
Jameela Pedicini was previously an Investment Officer in the CalPERS Global Governance Program. She supported the integration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in investment decision making across the Total Fund and contributes to CalPERS corporate engagement program. She also represented CalPERS at global sustainability forums.
Prior to joining CalPERS, Jameela worked at the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment where she developed and facilitated collaborative investor engagements on social issues. She has a background in ESG research. Jameela holds an MPhil in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Oxford, MSc from the University of Amsterdam, B.A. from Antioch University, and the CFA Society of the UK, Investment Management Certificate.
Patricia Farrar-Rivas, CIMA, CIS
Veris Wealth Partners
Patricia is a founding principal, CEO and Chief Compliance Officer of Veris Wealth Partners. She has been providing investment advisory and wealth management services since 1992. Patricia is a principal consultant to the Envestnet Sustainability Platform and a member of the Envestnet Advisory Board. Prior to Veris, Patricia was with Silicon Valley-based public accounting firm, Frank, Rimerman + Co.
Patricia is an active board member of As You Sow, a nonprofit organization promoting corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, grant making, and innovative legal strategies. She lives with her family in San Francisco.
Gregory Rogers, J.D., CPA
Advanced Environmental Dimensions
Mr. Rogers is President and founder of Advanced Environmental Dimensions, LLC. He is recognized in Best Lawyers in America in the field of environmental law. He is author of Financial Reporting of Environmental Liabilities and Risks after Sarbanes-Oxley (Wiley, 2005), past chairman of the American Bar Association’s Environmental Disclosure Committee, and one of 30 national experts contributing to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation and report to Congress on Environmental Disclosures (July 2004). Mr. Rogers is also “Of Counsel” with a boutique environmental law firm.
Mr. Rogers earned his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law as a Hatton W. Summers Scholar and received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting from the University of Oklahoma. He received his CPA certificate in 1984.
Elizabeth Seeger joined Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) in 2009 to help oversee the management of environmental and social responsibility issues and opportunities across KKR’s portfolio, including through KKR’s Green Portfolio Program. Elizabeth was previously a Project Manager in the Corporate Partnerships Program of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Prior to EDF, Elizabeth was a consultant with the Corporate Executive Board, where she advised companies across a broad range of industries in Europe and the United States. Before CEB, Elizabeth was an Associate at the Environmental Law Institute, a non-profit organization focused on environmental law and policy research and education. Elizabeth has more than 10 years of experience working on corporate environmental and social issues and earned a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
George Serafeim, PhD
Harvard – Harvard Business School
George Serafeim is an Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Professor Serafeim’s research interests are international, focusing on understanding the relation between environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance and financial performance and the role of disclosure in efficient capital allocation and long-term value creation. His work has been published in prestigious journals such as the Strategic Management Journal, Journal of International Business Studies and Review of Accounting Studies, and has also appeared in media outlets including Bloomberg, Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Professor Serafeim’s work with Professor Ioannis Ioannou on corporate sustainability and sell-side investment recommendations received the best paper award from the Academy of Management, and their work on corporate sustainability and access to finance received the best paper award from the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment network. He currently serves on the Technical Review Committee of the Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings.
Executive Director, Talent Analytics
Jeremy is an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley focusing on maximizing human capital (employees) through analytics. He is the co-author of Competing on Talent Analytics, Harvard Business Review’s October, 2010 cover story and co-author of the book Ultimate Performance. He leads an American National Standard taskforce developing standard measures and metrics for talent and human capital topics. Prior to Morgan Stanley, Jeremy spent 15 years at the Omnicom Group consulting top companies globally on talent measurement and systems.
Chief Innovation Officer
Carbon Disclosure Project
Nigel is Chief Innovation Officer at the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Nigel has been the principle architect of CDP’s ambitious program of innovation which has recently included new programs in Supply Chain, Water disclosure and Cities and is now looking to broader natural capital issues. Nigel is responsible for many of CDP major partnerships including those with Accenture, SAP, Microsoft and Bloomberg. In addition to serving on SASB’s Standards Council, he serves as an advisory representative for both the Climate Disclosure Standards Board and Climate Bonds Standards Board.
Prior to joining CDP, Nigel spent 18 years in the manufacturing sector.
Nigel obtained his undergraduate degree in Mathematics from Cambridge University where he also won two rugby Blues and his MSc in Holistic Science from Schumacher College.
Andrew Park, JD, PhD
Observer: Legal Counsel & Secretary
Andrew Park is a Sustainability Manager in Bloomberg’s Global Sustainability group. Reporting to the Chairman’s Office, the team aggressively integrates sustainability considerations into all operations and co-develops products and services for the Bloomberg Professional Service, enabling clients to evaluate sustainability market risks and opportunities.
Andrew manages special projects to develop cross-platform sustainability content and business strategies for multiple Bloomberg industry vertical groups. He is also charged with developing and managing NGO relationships to support the company’s sustainability agenda and find collaborative potential between the business and its corporate philanthropy.
Andrew holds a D.Phil. from Oxford University in Comparative Social Policy where he was a Rhodes Scholar, a law degree from the Yale Law School where he was a Soros Fellow, and a degree in Economics from Harvard University.
Jean Rogers, PhD
ex-officio Standards Council Member
SASB, Executive Director
Dr. Jean Rogers is the Founder and Executive Director of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. She has over 20 years of experience working with global clients to integrate sustainability into strategy and operations in order to reduce risk and improve performance across the triple bottom line. Prior to SASB, she was a principal at Arup, a global consultancy focused on sustainable development, and a management consultant with Deloitte. She worked with leading clients in the utilities, infrastructure, manufacturing, healthcare and real estate sectors in the US, Europe, and Asia. She is a registered Professional Engineer, and a former Loeb Fellow at Harvard University.
Observer: Technical Advisor
Team Lead for Information and Disclosure Policy
United States EPA
Exposure Draft of the Standards
Downloading Changes to the Exposure Draft of the Standards
The Basis for Conclusions compendium and Exposure Draft of the Standards are available for download (in PDF format) below. Please note that there may be differences between the provisional standard and the exposure draft of the standard that are not captured by redlines; these differences comprise negligible formatting and layout issues only in order to improve readability of the documents.
Providing Comments on the Exposure Draft of the Standards
The SASB welcomes stakeholder feedback regarding the Proposed Changes to the Provisional Standards, including the corresponding Basis for Conclusions. Interested parties are encouraged to submit public comments to the SASB for consideration in the ratification process of the Standards. Comments are recommended to be submitted via the SASB’s Public Comment Portal:
The SASB staff tracks and acknowledges receipt of all comments from stakeholders. All public comments received will be made publicly available after the conclusion of the Public Comment Period.
- Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals,
- Medical Equipment & Supplies,
- Health Care Delivery,
- Health Care Distributors,
- Managed Care,
- Drug Retailers
- Commercial Banks,
- Investment Banking & Brokerage,
- Asset Management & Custody Activities,
- Consumer Finance,
- Mortgage Finance,
- Security & Commodity Exchanges,
- Electronic Manufacturing Services & Original Design Manufacturing,
- Software & IT Services,
- Telecommunication Services,
- Internet Media & Services
- Oil & Gas – Exploration & Production,
- Oil & Gas – Midstream,
- Oil & Gas – Refining & Marketing,
- Oil & Gas – Services,
- Coal Operations,
- Iron & Steel Producers,
- Metals & Mining,
- Construction Materials
- Auto Parts,
- Car Rental & Leasing,
- Air Freight & Logistics,
- Marine Transportation,
- Cruise Lines,
- Rail Transportation,
- Road Transportation
- Professional & Commercial Services,
- Hotels & Lodging,
- Casinos & Gaming,
- Leisure Facilities,
- Advertising & Marketing,
- Media & Entertainment
- Aerospace & Defense,
- Electrical & Electronic Equipment,
- Industrial Machinery & Goods,
- Containers & Packaging
- Poultry, & Dairy,
- Processed Foods,
- Non-Alcoholic Beverages,
- Alcoholic Beverages,
- Food Retailers & Distributors,
- Accessories & Footwear,
- Appliance Manufacturing,
- Household & Personal Products,
- Building Products & Furnishings,
- Toys & Sporting Goods,
- Multiline And Specialty Retailers & Distributors,
- Solar Technology & Project Developers,
- Wind Technology & Project Developers,
- Fuel Cells & Industrial Batteries,
- Forestry Management,
- Pulp & Paper Products
- Electric Utilities & Power Generators,
- Gas Utilities & Distributors,
- Water Utilities & Services,
- Waste Management,
- Engineering & Construction Services,
- Home Builders,
- Real Estate,
- Real Estate Services
Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) 2017
From: Peter Burgess
To: Doug Park
I confess to a degree of frustration ... I find the process of contributing to the SASB process of standards development to be time consuming and in the end not very productive ... I seem to have achieved absolutely nothing. Nevertheless, I will persevere because the issues are too big, too immediate and system change is incredibly important, yet somehow we seem to be operating on an 18th century timeline for systemic change.
Your piece about materiality has caught my attention. I am an old accountant ... I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in London in 1965, and I still think in terms of materiality in the same way as I did when I was first learning how to be a good accountant.
Materiality is NOT a legal construct, it is something real. Materiality is a function of whether or not the particular matter is small and insignificant or not. In an accounting context, this depends on the process in play. A small change might result in something big later on ... in that case a small thing is material. In another case something may be small in one instance and the same thing be big in another instance. This is all about understanding reality much more than it is about understanding the law.
I was an effective CFO because I was very clear that the numbers should follow the reality, and not the other way round.
As the world becomes more interconnected there is need for metrics to suit this new world. I see the accounting constructs as being an important part of the metrics of the future ... but it is the numbering of reality that we have to get right, much more than it is to be splitting hairs to make lawyers happy.
With best regards
TrueValueMetrics ... Meaningful Metrics for a Smart Society ... Multi Dimension Impact Accounting
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