The World Economic Forum today released a set of universal environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics and disclosures to measure stakeholder capitalism that companies can report on regardless of their industry or region. Organized around the pillars of principles of governance, planet, people and prosperity, the identified metrics and disclosures align existing standards, enabling companies to collectively report non-financial disclosures. Announced at the fourth annual Sustainable Development Impact Summit, this open and multi-stakeholder initiative delivers on a commitment from the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in January. Since then, 120 members of the Forum’s International Business Council have shown strong support for ESG metrics, with some companies expected to begin incorporating them into their reporting immediately.
The report, “Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: Toward Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation”, comes at a pivotal moment. The social unrest, economic inequalities and racial injustice exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated demand from business, governments, standards bodies and NGOs for a comprehensive, globally accepted corporate reporting system.
“This is a unique moment in history to walk the talk and to make stakeholder capitalism measurable,” says Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum. “Having companies accepting, not only to measure but also to report on, their environmental and social responsibility will represent a sea change in economic history.”
The stakeholder capitalism metrics and disclosures, developed in collaboration with Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC, reflect an open consultation process with corporates, investors, standard-setters, NGOs and international organizations, and are designed to provide a common set of existing disclosures that lead towards a coherent and comprehensive global corporate reporting system.
In parallel to this work, the World Economic Forum has also collaborated with the Impact Management Project’s statement of intent to bring together the efforts of the five leading independent global framework and standard-setters (CDP, CDSB, GRI, IIRC and SASB) to work towards a comprehensive corporate reporting system and a statement of intent which works as a complement to the common metrics released today.
Companies see the importance of social, climate and other non-financial factors as critical for their long-term viability and success. Some 86% of executives surveyed by the Forum agreed that reporting on a set of universal ESG disclosures is important and would be useful for financial markets and the economy.
“Companies have to deliver great returns for shareholders and address important societal priorities,” said Brian Moynihan, Chairman and CEO of Bank of America, and Chairman of the International Business Council. “These metrics will provide clarity to investors and other stakeholders and ensure capital is aligning to drive progress on the SDGs. That’s stakeholder capitalism in action.”
“As the UK works in partnership with Italy towards hosting the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow in November 2021, I welcome the work of the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council in creating a set of common metrics for reporting sustainable value creation,” said Mark Carney, Finance Advisor to the UK Prime Minister for COP26 and United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance. “Through this work you are demonstrating to shareholders, stakeholders and society at large that the private sector is committed to measuring and improving its impacts on the environment as part of the transition to a low carbon future. I encourage governments, regulators, the official accounting community and voluntary standard setters to work with the IBC towards creating a globally accepted system of sustainability reporting based on this project’s groundbreaking work.”
“The disruptions of 2020 have underscored the critical importance of organizations managing and reporting their impact on the economy, the environment and society, and their increasing connection to long-term enterprise value creation,” said Punit Renjen, CEO, Deloitte Global. “Deloitte is pleased to have led the development of the Principles of Governance pillar and collaborated on this project with so many respected organizations. We hope our work supports organizations as they move towards consistent reporting of ESG metrics and disclosures in mainstream annual reports, as ultimately, this is how the business community will make greater progress against the Sustainable Development Goals.”
“The time is now for companies to broaden their engagement with stakeholders,” said Carmine Di Sibio, EY Global Chairman and CEO. “The combined impacts of climate change, COVID-19 and economic inequality contribute to the urgency for businesses to embrace long-term, sustainable value creation and prioritize the needs of people and planet and the creation of broad-based economic prosperity.”
“As businesses become more acutely aware of their role in addressing societal and environmental issues, moving toward a common set of ESG-focused metrics will help ensure that we all collectively make a difference where it counts,” said Bill Thomas, Global Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, KPMG International. “Reporting on ESG factors like carbon emissions and human rights and other key metrics will not only help inform investors while helping companies control their full corporate value, it has the power to realign capitalism for the benefit of broader society.”
“Robust non-financial reporting is a crucial element of the systemic economic reform the world needs to address issues like climate change and social inclusion, and we were pleased to be able to collaborate on this initiative and lead on the Planet pillar of this work,” said Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC. “Stakeholders – including investors, but also policy makers, consumers and employees – need more rounded, comparable and robust information to make decisions. Get that information flowing, align market incentives against performance on these metrics, and a better tomorrow becomes possible.”
Companies are encouraged to report on the full set of metrics in their mainstream reporting. “Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: Toward Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation” recommends a “disclose or explain” approach when certain metrics are not feasible, not relevant, or difficult to implement immediately. The report also recommends that each company apply its own view of dynamic materiality, reporting on what is deemed material to its business and stakeholders. The metrics are centred on four pillars:
- Reflects a company’s equity and its treatment of employees. Metrics include diversity reporting, wage gaps, and health and safety.
- Reflects a company’s dependencies and impacts on the natural environment. Metrics in this pillar include greenhouse gas emissions, land protection and water use.
- Reflects how a company affects the financial well-being of its community. Metrics include employment and wealth generation, taxes paid and research and development expenses.
Principles of Governance
- Reflects a company’s purpose, strategy and accountability. This pillar includes criteria measuring risk and ethical behaviour.