By Maura Hodge
Nearly all of the world's largest companies now report on sustainability – and I’m proud to say North America now has the highest sustainability reporting rate, according to our new global survey. ESG is no longer a buzz topic, but a component of top companies' strategies.
Reporting is clearly required for US companies and many factors are driving it. Investors and regulators are increasingly demanding information on the nonfinancial performance of all investments. Also, we’re seeing a generational shift. The generation entering the workforce has grown up learning about the risk of climate change and have very different expectations of their workplace and the goods they consume.
Business leaders driving corporate ESG strategy or seeking to strengthen their sustainability reporting capabilities will find value in “The Time Has Come: The KPMG Survey of Sustainability Reporting 2020,” as it illuminates trends in key aspects of ESG and sustainability disclosure, including quantitative reporting trends, disclosure of financial risks of climate change, disclosure of decarbonization, and reporting on biodiversity.
The survey is widely recognized as the most authoritative global research on sustainability reporting trends in business, and 2020's release is more comprehensive than ever, as data represents more than 5,000 companies worldwide, including those in smaller markets such as Argentina, Ecuador, Iceland, and Saudi Arabia.
“The question is increasingly becoming not if you have an ESG strategy, but whether it’s appropriately sophisticated, validated, and bold,” said Scott Flynn, Vice Chair of the KPMG U.S. Audit practice. He also pointed out that the survey demonstrates assurance's value-add. "The growth of more sophisticated sustainability reporting, in particular the third-party assurance of this information, shows businesses are recognizing the tangible benefits of building stakeholder trust and buy-in when executing their ESG strategy."
Major takeaways from this year's survey include:
As standards and frameworks begin to converge, auditors are uniquely positioned to provide third-party assurance of sustainability reporting.