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ESG Frameworks and Standards

Updated: Apr 9, 2022

According to one Edelman survey, a full 88% of institutional investors believe that companies that prioritize ESG initiatives represent better opportunities for long-term returns than companies that do not.


Basic ESG reporting will soon be mandatory in the EU, but, where it's not, keeping account of your environmental, social, and governance metrics is important for your organization's long-term health and for keeping your investors happy.

According to one Edelman survey, a full 88% of institutional investors believe that companies that prioritize ESG initiatives represent better opportunities for long-term returns than companies that do not.

This makes a lot of sense since long-term visibility and profitability are two of the primary factors guiding any investor's decision-making process, whether they are an individual or an institution.

Measuring and reporting ESG is also an internal opportunity to innovate, identify risks, and possibly even reduce costs in areas you evaluate as needing improvement.

By adopting an ESG reporting framework now, you stay ahead of the curve and show all stakeholders that you are serious about sustainability.


Since ESG reporting is very loosely regulated at this point, it's up to you to choose a framework or frameworks to adhere to.

Thankfully, there are multiple standards that can help your company establish ESG performance measurement. Here are a few of the most widely used and recognized.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

This international , independent body helps businesses, governments and other organizations understand, develop and communicate sustainability metrics. The guidelines, also known as 'GRI Standards', can be downloaded freely on their website. GRI relies on voluntary disclosure. You share with them a report covering the topics that are most relevant to your organization.

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)

This non-profit organization has developed a global standard for identifying, managing and communicating financially-material sustainability information to investors.

These standards are explained through a materiality map and contain a complete set of 77 industry-specific metrics. SASB is a great choice when you want to communicate the value you create in investor language. Besides, you can use it in conjunction with another framework. Many companies use SASB along with GRI, for example.

International Integrated Reporting council (IIRC)

Originally established in 2010, the IIRC published its own framework for integrated reporting which they define as "a process founded on integrated thinking that results in a periodic integrated report by an organization about value creation over time and related communications regarding aspects of value creation."

IIRC is often used together with SASB standards. The organization provides extensive information on their website regarding their International Integrated reporting Framework and its six pillars.

The Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI)

This is an investor collective created to help companies better communicate labor practices to stakeholders in an efficient way. Its website sports a list of reporting companies that have opted into the framework and is accepting the applications of those who want to start disclosing their ESG metrics.

The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)

An initiative of the Financial Stability Board, the task force was created to improve and increase reporting of climate-related financial risks. This will be a very interesting standard to track over the long term, to see which companies report climate-related financial information and also how they fare. What's even more interesting is that the UK is considering implementing the TCFD requirements in its own legislation.

The TCFD recommendations for reporting can be found in their knowledge base, along with in-depth tutorials on how to adhere to their standards.

The Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB)

This is an international consortium of NGOs that are set to help organizations integrate information related to climate change in their financial reporting. The CDSB has developed its own framework which is currently used by 374 companies across 32 countries.

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