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Sustainability Reporting Among S&P 500 Companies Increases Dramatically

The majority of U.S. companies in the S&P 500 Index and the Fortune 500 now publish sustainability reports, according to a new study by the Governance & Accountability Institute (G&A). 

G&A — a data partner for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)  found that 53 percent of of S&P 500 companies published ESG/CSR/sustainability reports in 2011, compared to 19 percent in 2010. Likewise, 57 percent of Fortune 500 companies reported, compared to only 20 percent the year before. This means non-reporters are in the minority for the first time.

"We believe this minority universe will continue to shrink as it has in the past few years as more large-cap companies embrace sustainability reporting,” said Institute Chairman Hank Boerner. “The benefits of sustainability reporting are becoming increasingly obvious over time and the long-term benefits of adopting sustainability strategies and reporting on performance become easier to measure and quantify."

The 2012 study examines corporate sustainability and responsibility reporting trends and explores the question: Does sustainability reporting really matter?  

The report states that an increasing number of corporate managers and boards are recognizing the benefits that measuring, managing and disclosing their strategies and performance on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors can have for their companies.

In addition to reputational benefits, the report notes that companies that are measuring and managing their sustainability issues appear to perform better over the long-term in the capital markets.    

A separate report published earlier this month by Brand Logic and CRD Analytics finds there may be a ceiling to how much companies can do to improve their reputations for sustainability.

@Bart_King is a freelance writer and communications consultant.

Bart King is the principal of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. He is also Associate Editor of Sponsored Content for Sustainable Brands. Follow him @bart_king [Read more about Bart King]

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