SASB Provides a Remedy for Sustainability Issues Reporting

According to the ANSI, SASB working groups must maintain a balance of one-third corporate representatives, one-third investors, and one-third other stakeholders, such as academics, accountants, auditors, consultants, policymakers, and regulators.
 
"We've had more than 650 participants go through our working groups for the next two sectors for which we are developing standards," Rogers said.
 
Leveling the Playing Field
The sustainability accounting standards are available for the following six industries within the health care sector:
  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical supplies and equipment
  • Health care delivery
  • Health care distributors
  • Managed care
Rogers said the standards address several other issues that fall under ESG, which are likely to be material for companies in these industries. Some of those issues include:
  • Resource management
  • Pharmaceutical water contamination
  • Drug safety and side effects
  • Ethical marketing
  • Affordability and fair pricing
  • Managed care price performance
  • Safety of clinical trial participants
"For example, in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, we look at environmental issues, such as resource management in manufacturing facilities, characteristics of energy and water use, and carbon emissions," she said. "But we also look at things like counterfeit drugs and safety of clinical trials, which are examples of the government and social issues that are relevant to those two industries.
 
"Those factors are different from what we would find in health care delivery, which would be more about quality of care, patient satisfaction, patient privacy, use of electronic health records, and facilities designed for wellness," Rogers continued. "What we are doing is taking those broad categories and interpreting what would make that information meaningful to an investor. How would an investor want to benchmark peers on those issues within an industry?"
 
Rogers said the SASB hopes to level the playing field in terms of nonfinancial reporting of sustainability issues.
 
"Companies and investors are responding in the sense that these issues are highly material, that it will give them a cost-effective way to disclose performance, and that it eases reporting fatigue," she concluded. "Every day, companies feel the burden by spending too much time reporting on things that investors and analysts never ask about. The important message is this is not additional reporting; it is bringing clarity to a subset of reporting that is highly material."
 

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