This is another short(!) post in the GRI Standards series – an anatomical dissection of the Exposure Draft of the new GRI Universal Standards and what it means for reporters and report users. This fifth post is all about sectors. You’ll recall that Sector Standards were a thing a long while ago at GRI, and a number of Sector Standards were developed. Then it stopped.
It’s clear that sectors enable segregation of companies into categories that often share the same context and same issues. That’s why there are so many sector associations, several of which have developed their own sustainability and reporting standards (in addition to bespoke Codes of Conduct and sustainability initiatives). IPIECA, for example, the oil and gas industry association, has a sustainability reporting manual for its members, now in its fourth edition. The World Steel Association has a sustainability reporting indicators guide for its members. The Responsible Business Alliance (for companies from the electronic, retail, toy and auto sectors) has a guide for transparency in procurement for its members. Cosmetics Europe has a sustainability guide for its members, that includes sustainability reporting with recommended indicators.The Better Buildings Partnership in the UK has a guide on reporting and metrics for its members. And the list goes on.
(By the way, the High Meadows Institute recently released a super-useful Business Leadership in Society Database of global partnerships and industry associations with detailed profiles of each that can help you check out what’s happening in your sector anywhere in the world, and companies that subscribe to these initiatives.)
Sectors is definitely a thing. And Larry Fink did not mince words when he wrote to companies that Blackrock is investing in, requiring them to publicly disclose using SASB Standards. SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board) as you probably know, was established in 2011 and has developed a list of 77 sector-aligned Standards designed to encourage companies to report on financially material sustainability topics within their corporate reporting for investors. Originally targeted at the U.S. market, SASB believes you cannot get enough of a good thing and therefore now promotes these standards globally. With 77 Standards, they pretty much cover the sector spectrum.