The year 2020 was already predicted to be a year of heightened focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) topics for public companies—and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests galvanized by the Black Lives Matter movement increased the call for corporate discussion and action on topics ranging from operational resilience and risk management, to customer and employee safety and welfare, to social responsibility, to diversity and inclusion.
The seismic shifts of 2020 have thrown into sharp relief the need for companies to communicate with investors and stakeholders not only the ESG risks faced by a company, but also its strategies to address those risks and its performance against those strategies. Yet, while reporting on ESG metrics can be an important tool for gauging the long-term health and stability of a company and its preparedness to weather challenges, this space is difficult to navigate, with an overabundance of non-uniform reporting guidelines, systems, and standards. Further, this lack of uniformity and the voluntary nature of disclosures create challenges for investors seeking comparability of information across companies and industries.
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