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Three-quarters of the S&P 500 Reported on Sustainability in 2014

Up from just 20% in 2011, last year some 75% of the Standard & Poor Index participants reported on sustainability or corporate social responsibility (CSR).

According to the Governance & Accountability Institute, “Sustainability reporting has become the clear norm in the U.S. capital markets as represented by our four-year study of the S&P 500.”

The turning point came in 2012 when 53% of S&P companies reported, driven by stakeholder, stockholder and peer pressure. That jumped to 72% by 2013 and continues to rise.

Of those 123 companies not reporting, almost 20% were from discretionary consumer and financial sectors (each) followed by 16% in information technology, some 15% in industrials, and 12% in the health care sector. Interestingly, all but 0.81% of firms in the utility sector reported – no doubt resulting from the scrutiny they must navigate daily.

According to Louis D. Coppola, Executive Vice President of G&A Institute, who designed and coordinated the analysis:  “We are seeing clear indications over the past four years in our research and work with our corporate clients that boards of directors and executive management understand the importance of adopting and implementing strategies, programs and initiatives that reflect the keen interest of investors and stakeholders in corporate sustainability.”

“Companies headquartered in the United States of America are publishing sustainability reports in substantial and now steady numbers,” adds Coppola. “Along with the volume of reporting we see a greater maturity of sustainability reporting with an increased focus on the part of corporate reporters on materiality, comparability, balance and context of content to meet rising stakeholder expectations. ”

This bodes well for increased transparency in the ways larger firms are tackling the rapidly changing business landscape as climate, labor, supply, and distribution channels shift.

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