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Reports 5 Dec 2019

The Art of Alignment

Sustainability & Financial Transparency

By Rebecca O'Neill and Sarah Volkman

Corporate transparency has evolved and progressed considerably in the last three decades. Public expectations of the private sector have shifted also, with greater emphasis being placed on corporate purpose beyond profit.

Investors in particular are increasingly requesting sustainability performance data. Companies are responding to stakeholder demands by communicating how the company is generating long-term value. Better aligning sustainability and financial disclosure is a core part of this response. Many frameworks, ratings and standards have emerged in recent years to provide guidance and incentives for companies to ensure coherent and consistent financial and sustainability disclosures, but there is no unified or accepted common practice approach.

Better aligning sustainability and financial disclosure is a core part of the response to investor and stakeholder requests for sustainability performance data.

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The Art of Alignment examines the push towards aligned transparency, its benefits and how to overcome barriers. The second half of this report provides a roadmap for sustainability practitioners to use to bring together their company’s sustainability and financial disclosures and meet the needs of their stakeholders in efficient and effective ways.

The research finds investors are the primary stakeholder looking for greater alignment between sustainability and financial transparency and focuses on them while offering additional guidance on transparency related to other key stakeholders.

SustainAbility is encouraged by the progress made by leaders and encourages all companies to continue their transparency alignment journeys. By providing greater visibility into corporate strategy and performance, businesses can enable more informed stakeholder decision-making. Ultimately, those decisions have the power to reward businesses that drive sustainable development and support construction of a future where the interests of the economy, society and the planet are all aligned.

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