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NUMBER OF PUBLICLY TRADED COMPANIES
DISCLOSING FIRST GENERATION
SUSTAINABILITY INDICATORS
ENERGY
WATER
WASTE
GHGS
EMPLOYEE TURNOVER
LOST-TIME INJURY RATE
0
500
1,000
1,500
2,000
2,500
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
After early and rapid gains
prior to 2008 the disclosure
curve is flattening out.
Before turning to the main sections of this paper,
it is instructive to first analyze the current state
of global corporate sustainability disclosure. This
analysis helps provide context for this paper’s
subsequent discussions. The data collected through
our study support three main findings.
More and more companies are disclosing sustainability
data, but the rate of change is slowing dramatically.
It is a common refrain in sustainability and policy
circles that sustainability disclosure is on the rise.
Our analysis substantiates this view, but it also
reveals that the
growth rate
in disclosure is slowing.
At least for the seven first generation indicators,
disclosure is effectively plateauing. As an illustrative
example, the number of public companies disclosing
energy data to the market grew from a mere 979 in
2007 to 2,141 in 2011, an increase of 119%. However,
the
annual increase
in companies reporting energy
use dropped from 72% in 2007 – 2008 to 5% in
2010 – 2011. A similar pattern is found on each of
the other first generation indicators. These data
are shown in Figure 3.
20
We believe this slowdown may reflect a natural
saturation rate of quantitative sustainability
reporting among the world’s publicly traded
companies, at least in the context of the current
global policy environment. It is likely that new types
of intervention by policymakers would be needed
to push disclosure beyond these saturation rates,
and, ultimately, to achieve complete first generation
reporting by the world’s publicly traded companies.
20 Payroll is excluded from Figure 3 because, unlike the other first generation
sustainability indicators, it is effectively a mandatory disclosure item in
many financial reporting regimes, including the International Accounting
Standards Board’s IAS 19 – Employee Benefits.
Corporate Sustainability
Disclosure:
The State of Play
Figure 3:
Number of publicly traded companies disclosing first
generation sustainability indicators, 2007 – 2011
Source: CK Capital, Bloomberg
1...,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18 20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,...71