Article | Journal of Applied Corporate Finance | Spring 2012

The Need for Sector-Specific Materiality and Sustainability Reporting Standards

by Robert G. Eccles, Michael P. Krzus, Jean Rogers and George Serafeim

Abstract

Even though the supply of sustainability information has increased considerably in the last decade, companies are still failing to disclose material information in a comparable format. We believe this has two downsides. On the one hand, companies are not adequately managing important business issues. On the other hand, risks to investors' portfolios, such as exposure to climate change, remain hidden. If this disclosure void continues to exist, the competitiveness of U.S. companies and its capital market will be at risk. While not a panacea, we believe that developing sector-specific guidelines on what sustainability issues are material to that sector and the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for reporting on them would significantly improve the ability of companies to report on their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance.

Keywords: sustainability; reporting; accounting; standard setting; regulation; Environmental Sustainability; Accounting; Standards; Integrated Corporate Reporting; Corporate Disclosure; Competitive Advantage; Capital Markets; Accounting Industry; United States;

Citation:

Eccles, Robert G., Michael P. Krzus, Jean Rogers, and George Serafeim. "The Need for Sector-Specific Materiality and Sustainability Reporting Standards." Journal of Applied Corporate Finance 24, no. 2 (Spring 2012): 65–71.