Research links financial and corporate sustainability performance
9th November 2018
The Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) announces its third annual report on Sustainability (ESG) Reporting Trends: North America 2018. This research provides a useful and convenient representation of the current state of Sustainability Reporting. It focuses on companies and organizations based in the US and Canada. For the first time, the research examines how artificial intelligence (AI) and Blockchain are applied to Corporate Sustainability.
Based on 642 North American sustainability reports for the 2017 reporting period, CSE created a unique analysis framework. It identifies correlations between Sustainability (ESG) performance and Financial results. The 50 companies with the highest ESG scores (CSRHub Ranking as of July 2018) indicate a strong correlation between financial performance and sustainability performance. Similar findings were identified in last year’s CSE research. Evidence suggests a strong correlation between comprehensive sustainability strategies, Sustainability Reporting and a culture of transparency that have a positive impact on revenues.
CSE created the new Return on Sustainability (RoS) framework to support businesses. It helps assess the impact of their Sustainability Strategies and Reporting on their bottom line. Any company can complete the CSE Sustainability and Financial Performance Questionnaire as a first step. Responses identify if they have the enablers and tools needed to integrate sustainability into their research strategy and maximize RoS.
New data focuses on AI and Blockchain. Increased application of AI indicates that it will play an intrinsic role enabling and scaling sustainability solutions. CSE predicts that Sustainability and CSR practices and reporting will be radically transformed. Likewise, Blockchain is set to change the way business transactions take place. The visibility provided by Blockchain will increase efficient transactions, promoting food safety, efficient recalls, the elimination of counterfeits, and the assurance of ethical trading partners.
The report elaborates on trends identified over the past three years. Sectors with the highest reporting presence in the research sample include: Financial Services, Energy and Energy Utilities, Food & Beverage, Healthcare Products and Mining. Of companies topping their sector based on revenue, the majority have both Sustainability Reporting and comprehensive sustainability strategies. Once again, the GRI leads as the reporting standard of choice. And, the adoption of the United Nations Sustainability Goals (SDGs) in 2017 doubled with respect to previous research (13.9% from 6.2%).