Companies Grapple With Sustainability Data
A decade ago, Crown Holdings Inc. thought it would be risky to share data about its environmental footprint. Now the packaging maker considers it a business imperative.
十年前，皇冠控股公司(Crown Holdings Inc.)。认为分享有关其环境足迹的数据会有风险。现在，包装制造商认为这是一项势在必行的业务。
“There’s always that hesitation to be transparent about all of your information,” says John Rost, vice president of sustainability and regulatory affairs at the Yardley Pa.-based company. “As we’ve seen the benefits of being transparent, we’ve really opened up.”
Crown traces its commitment to sustainability back more than 120 years, when founder William Painter invented the bottle cap to extend the shelf life of beverages and reduce waste. But the first sustainability report the company published, in 2011, didn’t set any numerical targets for things like reducing greenhouse-gas emissions
Crown says it soon found that the food and beverage firms buying its cans and containers wanted transparency on everything from greenhouse-gas emissions to water use and recycling. As more companies focus on sustainability, they expect their values to be shared by their suppliers, Mr. Rost says.
In its 2019 sustainability report, Crown said it was on track to match all of the electricity used in its U.S. and Canadian beverage plants with wind power by this July. It has since had to adjust that target due to Covid-19 but says it will switch on wind power at the end of this month. Crown also said it has met its goal of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions from direct operations and energy purchases associated with metal-packaging production by 10% compared with 2015 levels.
The increased disclosure at Crown, the top U.S. company on the environment in a new Wall Street Journal ranking of the world’s most sustainably managed firms, underscores how sustainability reporting is capturing the corporate world. Not only are companies facing demands from some investors for data on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks and practices, they are being pressured by employees and consumers to focus on issues such as climate change and diversity.
皇冠集团(Crown)是“华尔街日报”(Wall Street Journal)最新发布的全球最可持续管理公司排行榜中有关环境问题的美国顶级公司。该公司披露的信息越来越多，突显出可持续发展报告正如何占领企业界。公司不仅面临一些投资者对其环境、社会和治理(ESG)风险和实践数据的要求，员工和消费者也向它们施压，要求它们专注于气候变化和多样性等问题。
Last year, 90% of companies in the S&P 500 index published sustainability reports, up from about 20% in 2011, according to Governance & Accountability Institute, a New York-based consulting firm.
As disclosure has improved, so has the value of corporate ESG data, researchers say. Assets under management in funds world-wide that weigh sustainability factors when making investment decisions grew to $40.5 trillion this year from $22.9 trillion in 2016, according to consulting firm Opimas. The firm says the market for ESG data—including financial indexes and analysis—is expected to approach $1 billion by 2021 from roughly $617 million last year, with the biggest buyers of such data being money managers developing investment products for clients.
For companies, creating a sustainability report doesn’t come cheap. A big company can expect to invest from $500,000 to $1 million to gather data and produce “a comprehensive report that moves the needle with investors,” says Hank Boerner, chairman of Governance & Accountability Institute.
对于公司来说，编写一份可持续发展报告并不便宜。治理与责任研究所(Government&Accounability Institute)主席汉克·布尔纳(Hank Boerner)表示，一家大公司预计将投资50万至100万美元来收集数据，并制作出“一份能打动投资者的综合报告”。
That’s only the beginning. Companies also grapple with a tangled web of data requests from investors, standards groups and organizations that rate firms’ ESG performance. There were more than 600 such raters last year, according to SustainAbility, a consulting firm.
“Today, having someone inside simply dedicate a few hours to organizing sustainability disclosure isn’t a winning strategy in the intense competition for capital, marketplace and recognition of leadership,” Mr. Boerner says.
Even so, many companies are selective about the questions they answer and the data they provide.
“We limit our time spent on requests” and respond based on the credibility of the organization’s methods, popularity among investors and openness for feedback, among other things, says Huub Savelkouls, sustainability chief at Philip Morris International Inc.
菲利普莫里斯国际公司(Philip Morris International Inc.)可持续发展主管胡布·萨夫库尔斯(Huub Savelkouls)表示，“我们限制在请求上花费的时间”，并根据该组织方法的可信度、投资者的人气和对反馈的开放性等因素做出回应。
To help investors and consumers sort out how companies are performing on environmental and social issues, The Wall Street Journal created a ranking of the world’s most sustainably managed companies. The Journal’s ESG research analystsbased the list on a review of more than 5,500 publicly traded companies around the world that meet specific disclosure standards. The ranking places a numerical value of 0 to 100 on a company’s overall performance across 26 categories of sustainability, ranging from leadership and governance to community engagement and environmental disclosures.
Almost all ratings organizations review public information, and some send surveys and questionnaires to companies to get additional data. The Journal’s ranking used publicly available data and an analysis of media coverage by more than 8,800 sources available via Factiva, a database information service owned by Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co., to create its scores. Artificial-intelligence systems supporting the ranking were co-developed with data-service, advisory and technology provider Arabesque S-Ray, which also supplied the company data used for the scores. To qualify for the list, companies need to have publicly disclosed a minimum of 20 data inputs—at least two per financially material category—since 2018.
几乎所有的评级机构都会审查公开信息，一些机构会向公司发送调查和问卷，以获得更多数据。华尔街日报出版商道琼斯公司(Dow Jones&Co.)旗下的数据库信息服务公司Factia使用了公开可得的数据和对8800多家媒体报道的分析，得出了“华尔街日报”的排名。支持排名的人工智能系统是与数据服务、咨询和技术提供商Arabesque S-Ray共同开发的，后者还提供了用于分数的公司数据。要有资格进入这份名单，自2018年以来，公司需要公开披露至少20个数据输入-每个财务材料类别至少两个。
Crown, as well as French miner Eramet SA, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson and semiconductor firm Texas Instruments Inc., were among the top 25% of companies in the WSJ ranking that reported the most sustainability data.
皇冠集团(Crown)以及法国矿商Eramet SA、制药巨头强生公司(Johnson&Johnson)和半导体公司德州仪器(Texas Instruments Inc.)都跻身于华尔街日报公布的可持续性数据最多的前25%的公司之列。
The ESG ratings business is in its early days, and firms say it’s possible to get a good grade from one rater and a poor grade from another.
That’s partly because raters assign different weights to various ESG metrics, say researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Zurich who reviewed ratings across 924 companies.
麻省理工学院(Massachusetts Institute Of Technology)和苏黎世大学(University Of Zurich)的研究人员对924家公司的评级进行了审查，他们说，这在一定程度上是因为评级人员给不同的ESG指标分配了不同的权重。
In addition, large companies tend to have an advantage because they can devote more resources to collecting and reporting ESG data, some experts say.
“For a mid- to small-size company, it can be harder to be transparent,” says Christina Wong, principal consultant at SustainAbility.
Adding to the complexity, ESG standards organizations have multiplied in recent years, and each has a different framework through which companies can format and report sustainability data. Two of the most popular are the Global Reporting Initiative and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, or SASB. CDP, formerly the Climate Disclosure Project, and the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures focus on environmental data.
增加复杂性的是，ESG标准组织近年来成倍增加，每个组织都有不同的框架，公司可以通过这些框架格式化和报告可持续发展数据。其中最受欢迎的两个是全球报告倡议(Global Reporting Initiative)和可持续发展会计准则委员会(可持续性会计准则委员会，简称SASB)。CDP(前身为气候披露项目)和气候相关财务披露特别工作组将重点放在环境数据上。
Johnson & Johnson, No. 43 in the Journal research team’s overall ranking and in the top 10 for social-capital management, says it reports via all four of these standards.
“J&J has increased its ESG reporting and disclosure over the past decade to keep pace with the dramatic increase in stakeholder interest and expectations,” says Dirk Brinckman, vice president of regulatory law, supply chain & procurement at the New Brunswick, N.J.-based company.
J&J works through the year to prepare its ESG data for auditors, Mr. Brinckman says, adding that data collection is complicated by the fact that the multiple frameworks have different metrics.
To cover the disclosure needs of stakeholders in its pharmaceuticals, medical-devices and consumer-goods segments, the company has a process to identify and give priority to the ESG topics that matter most, he says. This lets it “meet the demands of the multiple frameworks against which we report,” he says.
SASB encourages companies to disclose data on what is most important to their bottom lines and investors. The Journal’s ESG researchers use the SASB framework to ensure their scores are focused on categories considered financially material to each company.
Regulators, meanwhile, are starting to request sustainability data from companies, too.
In 2020, there were more than 600 mandatory and voluntary provisions across 84 countries requiring or encouraging disclosure of sustainability metrics, according to a report by the Global Reporting Initiative and the University of Stellenbosch Business School in South Africa. That compares with 383 in 2016.
根据全球报告倡议(Global Reporting Initiative)和南非斯泰伦博施大学商学院(University Of Stellenbosch Business School)的一份报告，2020年，84个国家有600多项强制性和自愿性条款，要求或鼓励披露可持续性指标。相比之下，2016年有383人。
The European Union, which already requires large companies to disclose information on how they manage social and environmental challenges, is now readying the world’s first-ever “green list”—a classification system for sustainable economic activities. The idea is to create a common language to help investors direct money toward more-sustainable projects.
In the U.S., a Securities and Exchange Commission subcommittee in May recommended that the agency start requiring companies to report sustainability data, with the goal being to create uniform disclosure standards. While the SEC appears far off from doing that, in August it amended rules on nonfinancial disclosures to require that companies “describe human-capital resources, including any human-capital measures or objectives the company focuses on in managing its business” to the extent they are material to its business.
在美国，美国证券交易委员会(Securities And Exchange Commission)的一个小组委员会在5月份建议该机构开始要求公司报告可持续性数据，目标是制定统一的披露标准。尽管SEC似乎远未做到这一点，但它在8月份修订了非财务披露规则，要求公司“描述人力资本资源，包括公司在管理业务时专注于的任何人力资本措施或目标”，以达到对其业务至关重要的程度。
For now, however, most of the pressure to disclose comes from investors.
Trillium Asset Management LLC, which manages some $3.2 billion of sustainable investments, has waged several campaigns that compelled companies to disclose more data on topics such as gender and ethnic diversity and greenhouse-gas emissions.
管理着约32亿美元可持续投资的Trillium Asset Management LLC已经发起了几次活动，迫使公司披露更多关于性别和种族多样性以及温室气体排放等主题的数据。
Jonas Kron, chief advocacy officer at the Boston-based firm, acknowledges that companies face a lot of demand for data, but he has little sympathy.
“To use the old trope, what gets measured gets managed,” he says.