SEC Proposes Important Amendments to Corporate Disclosure & Reporting – Changes Are in the Wind — But Corporate ESG Disclosure Is Not Addressed in the SEC Proposals …

October 12 2017 – by Hank Boerner – Chair, G&A Institute

On October 11, 2017 important news was coming from the Securities Exchange Commission (in Washington DC) for corporate leaders and investment professionals: a comprehensive package of proposed changes (amendments) to existing rules for corporate disclosure and reporting was released for public examination and comment.

There are more than 250 pages of proposed changes and adjustments released for your reading (the document will be published now in the Federal Register for broad communication to stakeholders).

You’ll remember the April 2016 activities as SEC released a 200-plus page Concept Release that addressed a range of issues that could result in revamping the overarching parts of Regulation S-K and parts of Regulation Fair Disclosure (“Reg FD“) and other corporate disclosures required by Federal statutes.

We told you about this in our post of May 13, 2016.
Link: http://ga-institute.com/Sustainability-Update/tag/sec-concept-release/

We said then: Maybe…U.S. Companies will be required…or strongly advised…to disclose ESG Data and related business information…

There were great hopes raised when the Commission in circulating the Concept Release document devoted more than a dozen pages to discussion about ESG, sustainable investing, the possibility of “guidance” or perhaps amending rules to meet investors’ expectations that public companies would begin, expand, improve on, ESG disclosure.

Numerous investor interests provided comments to the SEC in support of the possibilities raised by SEC in the dozen pages of the Concept Release devoted to ESG et al.

The US SIF — the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investing, a very influential trade association of asset owners and managers — provided important input, as did the CFA Institute (the U.S.-based, global certification organization for financial analysts and portfolio managers worldwide).

Disclosure of material ESG issues was a key concern of the numerous responders in the public comment period.

This week’s development: The SEC Commission proposed amendments to existing regulations that are part of the “Modernization and Simplification of Regulation S-K,” citing a different package of legislation. (The FAST Act Modernization, which in part will the sponsors said will attempt to “prune the regulatory orchard” — this is part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or “FAST”.)

The Commission referred to the proposals as an important step “…to modernize and simplify disclosure requirements for public companies, investment advisors and mutual fund (investment) companies under the FAST Act…”

This, said recently-appointed SEC Chair Jay Clayton, “…is the most effective way to update SEC rules, simplify forms and utilize technology to make disclosure more accessible…”

The proposed amendments were characterized as part of the overall, long-term review of the SEC’s disclosure system. Thus, the SEC said the proposed amendments reflect “perspectives developed during the staff’s broader review…including public input on the prior Concept Release.

The details are available for you in a new 253-page document, at: https://www.sec.gov/rules/proposed/2017/33-10425.pdf

You have 60 days of open comment period ahead during which to express your views on the proposals.

The proposed amendments mostly address corporate governance (G”) issues that if adopted would:

• Change such items as Description of Property**; the MD&A; Directors, Executive Officers, Promoters and Control Persons; Compliance with Section 16(a) of the Exchange Act; Outside Cover Page of the Prospectus.

• Revise rules and forms to update, streamline and improve the SEC disclosure framework by eliminating risk factor examples listed in the disclosure requirement and revising the description of “the property requirement” to emphasize the materiality threshold**”.

Note that while “property” is usually a facility, this does not always apply to the service sectors.

• Update rules as needed to reflect changes since the rules were first adopted or last amended. (Including, “corporate governance” items, such as for Board Auditing, Compensation Committee operations.)

• Simplify the overall disclosure process, including treatment of confidential information; also, changes would be made to the MD&A to allow for “flexibility in discussing historical periods”. (The discussion on confidential info runs for pages – important to read for corporate managers involved in disclosure.)

• Treatment of subsidiaries.

• Incorporate technology to improve access to information requiring data tagging (XBRL) for items on the cover page and use of hyperlinks (HTML) by reference and in the EDGAR system.

Again – the public now has 60 days to submit comments on the proposed amendments (to such statutory authority as the Securities Act of 1933; Securities Exchange Act of 1934; Investment Company Act of 1940; and, regulations under these landmark securities protection laws of the land).

There are numerous sections within the proposed amendment document where the Commission is inviting public comment. To submit your comments, see: http://www.sec.gov/rules/proposed.shtml — file#S7-08-17

Disappointing News: There is no mention that we could find in the proposal document that addressed the many comments that were directed to the SEC staff in response to the earlier Concept Release by sustainable & responsible investor interests. And, in many investor conversations with SEC staff that acknowledged the growing importance of disclosure regarding corporate sustainability and ESG performance.

No mention of: Climate Change. ESG. Responsible Investment.

This is very troubling — no doubt members of the investment community and corporate leaders well along on their sustainability journey will be providing their perspectives to SEC — and the media, and elected officials — on this important oversight.

SEC guidance for corporate reporters regarding their ESG, sustainability, responsibility, citizenship, etc disclosures and reporting activities would be very helpful – right?  Of course, we are in a new political environment now, and perhaps that is helping to shape the agenda at the Commission as “reforms” are drafted and distributed for public consumption.

There is much more news to come when the response to the announcement begins. Stay Tuned!

P.S. – if you/your organization responds to the draft proposals, please do let G&A know so we can publicize your perspectives.

Meet Hideki Suzuki, Bloomberg LP @ Demystifying The CSA & DJSI Workshop

Hideki Suzuki, Senior Governance Data Analyst, Bloomberg LP is speaking at Demystifying the Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) & The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). This practitioner workshop is presented by Governance & Accountability Institute in collaboration RobecoSAM on October 24, 2017 and is being hosted at Baruch College/CUNY in New York City.  Hideki will be focusing on ESG Data from an Investor Perspective.

MEET ONE OF THE SPEAKERS: HIDEKI SUZUKI
Senior Governance Data Analyst, Bloomberg LP
TOPIC:
ESG Data from an Investor Perspective

A conversation with Hideki:

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session on ESG Data from an Investor Perspective?

In the session, I will walk through how RobecoSAM scores are viewed and utilized by investment professionals through our analytics.

Q:  What type of information from the RobecoSAM CSA is available to subscribers of the Bloomberg terminal?

The percentile rankings of each of the various criterion under the Environmental, Social, Economic and Total ESG categories for nearly 2000 companies are available. 

Q:  What can companies learn about their competitors if they have access to a Bloomberg terminal?

Benchmarking is made easy for corporate sustainability officers. Bloomberg terminal will let them see what others in the industry consider important, how their competitors are performing on the KPIs.

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CAREER BACKGROUND:
Hideki Suzuki, Senior Governance Data Analyst, Bloomberg LP
Hideki Suzuki is a senior corporate governance analyst at Bloomberg.

After joining Bloomberg LP in 1999, he spent the first 5 years in electronic trading desk support and third party fixed income and its derivatives pricing contents team.

In 2005, Hideki moved to equity fundamentals data department then moved to ESG team in 12/2008. From 2014 on, his focus has been to build database and analytics for corporate governance and executive compensation products on Bloomberg terminal.

He has a BA in Economics and History from Fordham University.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

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The aim of this workshop is to increase the participants’ knowledge about the methodology behind the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) and the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) — in this session, specifically on selected criteria including Human Rights, Supply Chain, and Human Capital. A workshop session will also be included on how institutional investors are utilizing data from the CSA and ESG data in their investment decision-making.

Click here for more info and to register.

RobecoSAM and Governance & Accountability Institute expert representatives will contribute to the meeting overall and in particular present content (including analysis and slide decks) that address each of the criterion. Representatives from CSA-responding corporations that are high scorers in the respective CSA criterion will respond and share their perspective and experience in crafting responses to the CSA.

Participants can expect to take away a deeper understanding of:

  • The DJSI 2017 – results and learnings.
  • Effective approaches to assessing established and emerging sustainability topics in the CSA.
  • Rationale, the business case, performance, and results from last year’s assessment, and learn more about major challenges for companies, especially in the CSA Criteria of Human Rights, Human Capital, and Supply Chain.
  • How institutional investors/fiduciaries are utilizing ESG data.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

Meet Ariel Meyerstein, Citi @ Demystifying The CSA & DJSI Workshop

Ariel Meyerstein, Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability Program, Citi is speaking at Demystifying the Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) & The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). This practitioner workshop is presented by Governance & Accountability Institute in collaboration RobecoSAM on October 24, 2017 and is being hosted at Baruch College/CUNY in New York City.  Ariel will be focusing on assessment questions for Human Rights.

MEET ONE OF THE SPEAKERS: ARIEL MEYERSTEIN
Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability, Citi
TOPIC: Workshop 1: Human Rights

A conversation with Ariel:

Q:  What is your involvement and experience at Citi in completing the RobecoSAM CSA for the DJSI each year? 

As the newest edition to Citi’s Sustainability Team, joining in March 2017, I’ve been involved in Citi’s most recent RobecoSAM CSA filing for 2017, but my colleagues on the Sustainability team have long had lead ownership over preparing our overall response and gathering information from dozens of functions across our global company, garnering us a spot on the DJSI World and DJSI North American indices for 17 straight years. Our team also co-leads development of our annual Global Citizenship Report, which summarizes the ways in which Citi enables progress in the cities and communities where we live and work. I manage our reputational risks for human rights and other sustainability issues, so I focus on our CSA responses to the human rights-related questions, parallel sections of the Citizenship Report and various other external stakeholders.

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session on Human Rights?

We’ll discuss how Citi supports human rights across our entire value chain – for our employees, suppliers, clients and communities in all the countries where we do business. This is a complex and rapidly evolving space that requires us to refine our approach to human rights based on a number of factors. Citi is determined to finding and eliminating human rights violations across our company, supply chain and anyplace else we can influence the human rights agenda.

We also recognize that partnering with our industry and more broadly is critical to improving businesses’ collective approach to preserving human rights. Citi is a founding member of the Equator Principles, a member of Shift’s Business Learning Program, and the first U.S. bank to report to the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework.

Q:  What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who are considering attending the program and looking to improve their RobecoSAM CSA responses, and get on the DJSI? 

Corporate responsibility efforts, particularly on social issues like human rights and labor, are never complete, particularly as regulatory initiatives continue to proliferate and expectations around action and transparency continue to rise.  As companies work on these issues, we all struggle with how much of our internal story to disclose, particularly for efforts that are always ‘in progress’ or where results are uneven because the issues are challenging. So the trick is to keep tabs on developments, expectations and best practices and find ways to get comfortable with being increasingly transparent about your progress and your challenges so that stakeholders can have greater appreciation for all the hard work you do.

* * * * * * * *

CAREER BACKGROUND:
Dr. Ariel Meyerstein, Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability, Citi
Dr. Meyerstein works in Citi’s Sustainability team, helping to lead the development of policy frameworks and risk management approaches to human rights and sustainability issues. Prior to joining Citi, Meyerstein led multilateral organization policy engagement on human rights, labor affairs, sustainable development and corporate governance for the United States Council for International Business, an association of Fortune 500 U.S. businesses. While at USCIB, Meyerstein launched the Business for 2030 portal, one of the earliest platforms to promote and track business engagement in the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Prior to USCIB, Meyerstein spent several years developing expertise in international dispute resolution while working for global law firms and in international courts and tribunals. Meyerstein has served on a number of advisory committees to various U.S. executive branch agencies and international organizations on the intersection of trade, investment and human rights and sustainable development. He was elected a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations in 2016 and is a member of the Global Advisory Council of the Ethics Alliance. He has published several articles and book chapters on various aspects of human rights law and teaches business and human rights as an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law. He received his law degree and PhD in Jurisprudence & Social Policy from the University of California, Berkeley. He has a B.A. from Columbia University in English & Comparative Literature with a concentration in Human Rights. He lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife and two children.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

The aim of this workshop is to increase the participants’ knowledge about the methodology behind the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) and the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) — in this session, specifically on selected criteria including Human Rights, Supply Chain, and Human Capital. A workshop session will also be included on how institutional investors are utilizing data from the CSA and ESG data in their investment decision-making.

Click here for more info and to register.

RobecoSAM and Governance & Accountability Institute expert representatives will contribute to the meeting overall and in particular present content (including analysis and slide decks) that address each of the criterion. Representatives from CSA-responding corporations that are high scorers in the respective CSA criterion will respond and share their perspective and experience in crafting responses to the CSA.

Participants can expect to take away a deeper understanding of:

  • The DJSI 2017 – results and learnings.
  • Effective approaches to assessing established and emerging sustainability topics in the CSA.
  • Rationale, the business case, performance, and results from last year’s assessment, and learn more about major challenges for companies, especially in the CSA Criteria of Human Rights, Human Capital, and Supply Chain.
  • How institutional investors/fiduciaries are utilizing ESG data.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

Meet Jocelyn Cascio, Intel Corporation @ Demystifying The CSA & DJSI Workshop

Jocelyn Cascio, Supply Chain Sustainability Senior Manger at Intel Corporation is speaking at Demystifying the Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) & The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). This practitioner workshop is presented by Governance & Accountability Institute in collaboration RobecoSAM on October 24, 2017 and is being hosted at Baruch College/CUNY in New York City.  Jocelyn will be focusing on assessment questions for supply chain at the workshop.

MEET ONE OF THE SPEAKERS: JOCELYN CASCIO
Supply Chain Sustainability Senior Manager at Intel Corporation

Topic: Workshop 3: Supply Chain

A conversation with Jocelyn:

Q:  What is your involvement and experience at Intel Corporation in completing the RobecoSAM CSA for the DJSI each year? 

For the past 6 years, my team and I have owned completion of the Supply Chain section of the CSA. We analyze, synthesize and consolidate data from various sources and collaborate across internal stakeholders to ensure the most complete story in the application. We also own the SC section in Intel’s CSR Report.

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session on Supply Chain?

  • Insight on how Intel has evolved our Supply Chain Sustainability Program over the past decade and how we’ve integrated Sustainability into our standard supply chain processes.
  • How we’ve leveraged Industry Associations like the EICC to create and proliferate standards and achieve the greatest possible reach across our global Supply Chain.
  • What some of the key focus areas of our program are (e.g., Forced and Bonded Labor, Conflict Minerals, Supplier Diversity) and how we measure them.
  • How our Supplier Capability Building Program supports and enables supplier performance improvement. 

Q:  What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who are considering attending the program and looking to improve their RobecoSAM CSA responses, and get on the DJSI? 

Build strong relationships internally with others in your company that work on the different programs comprehended in the CSA. Determine an overall lead as well as clear ownership for the various sections to ensure you are able to provide the most complete picture with all relevant data. Have a strong multi-stakeholder sensing process in place to ensure you comprehend the various, ever-changing and increasing priorities (including DJSI); this will enable you to stay ahead of emerging issues and be proactive versus being completely reactive and potentially losing points.

* * * * * * * *

CAREER BACKGROUND:
Jocelyn Cascio, Supply Chain Sustainability Senior Manager at Intel Corporation

Since 2009, Jocelyn Cascio has been the Supply Chain Sustainability Senior Manager at Intel, working internally and externally to integrate sustainability more deeply into the supply chain, define increased expectations for suppliers and lead capability building efforts.  She has spent her 20 year tenure at Intel in various roles across the Supply Chain, leading business process improvement and change management efforts on a variety of global, cross functional initiatives.  She is a Lean Six Sigma Certified Black Belt with a BA in Organizational Communication from Arizona State University and an MBA from Babson College.  She also holds Leading Organizational Transition and CSCMP Supply Chain Masters certifications.  Jocelyn’s personal passions include competing in equestrian sports as well as marathons and Ironman triathlons.

* * * * * * * *

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

The aim of this workshop is to increase the participants’ knowledge about the methodology behind the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) and the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) — in this session, specifically on selected criteria including Human Rights, Supply Chain, and Human Capital. A workshop session will also be included on how institutional investors are utilizing data from the CSA and ESG data in their investment decision-making.

Click here for more info and to register.

RobecoSAM and Governance & Accountability Institute expert representatives will contribute to the meeting overall and in particular present content (including analysis and slide decks) that address each of the criterion. Representatives from CSA-responding corporations that are high scorers in the respective CSA criterion will respond and share their perspective and experience in crafting responses to the CSA.

Participants can expect to take away a deeper understanding of:

  • The DJSI 2017 – results and learnings.
  • Effective approaches to assessing established and emerging sustainability topics in the CSA.
  • Rationale, the business case, performance, and results from last year’s assessment, and learn more about major challenges for companies, especially in the CSA Criteria of Human Rights, Human Capital, and Supply Chain.
  • How institutional investors/fiduciaries are utilizing ESG data.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

Meet Robert Dornau, RobecoSAM @ Demystifying The CSA & DJSI Workshop

Robert Dornau, Director, Senior Manager Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM is speaking at Demystifying the Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) & The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). This practitioner workshop is presented by Governance & Accountability Institute in collaboration RobecoSAM on October 24, 2017 and is being hosted at Baruch College/CUNY in New York City.  Robert will be focusing on assessment questions for Human Rights, Human Capital & Supply Chain as well as providing results, and learnings of the DJSI 2017.

MEET ONE OF THE SPEAKERS: ROBERT DORNAU
Director, Senior Manager Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM
Topic:
Workshop 1: Human Rights; Workshop 2: Human Capital; Workshop 3: Supply Chain

A conversation with Robert:

Q:  What is your involvement and experience with RobecoSAM’s CSA for the DJSI? 

I am a director in RobecoSAM’s Sustainability Services business. We leverage the unique CSA database and provide benchmarking services to companies. In this role I have looked at the environmental performance of hundreds of CSA participating companies in detail and helped them understand RobecoSAM’s CSA methodology and the rational and scoring methodology for the questions we ask. It is important to know that my department is not involved in the CSA scoring process.

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your presentations?

For all of the focus areas in this workshop I will present RobecoSAM’s rational, the approach we expect companies to take when they address these areas, the performance indicators that we measure and our assessment methodology, and the link we see to business value drivers (Risk profile, growth, profitability). I will also present statistical analysis on the results of the 2017 assessment in the focus area. Based on that the areas most companies struggle with will be identified and discussed in more detail.

Q:  What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who are considering attending the program and looking to improve their RobecoSAM CSA responses, and get on the DJSI? 

The basis to improve your performance in RobecoSAM’s CSA is an improvement of your underlying sustainability performance. This workshop will help you better understand RobecoSAM’s rational and expectations in the focus areas covered. The better you understand the requirements, the more focused your answers to the assessment can be. A better understanding of the CSA approach also helps you find the arguments internally to improve e.g. your companies processes and transparency in certain areas. The value of participating in the CSA goes clearly beyond inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices. By definition only a small number of companies can make it into the index. The results of the CSA are also published on Bloomberg, this allows investors to see the full ranking of companies that goes beyond the top 10% included in the index.

CAREER BACKGROUND:
Robert Dornau, Director, Senior Manager Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM, Zurich, Switzerland

Robert joined RobecoSAM’s Sustainability Services Team in February 2014. Before that Robert worked in different roles in climate change and sustainability, including Vice President, Global Head Climate Change Service at technical verification and inspection firm SGS, Deputy to the CEO of the International Emissions Trading Association, Consultant to the World Bank as Conference Director for Carbon Expo. Robert is a regular speaker and chair at workshops, webinars and international conferences. He holds a Master in Economics from the University of Konstanz, Germany and has published articles in peer reviewed journals and contributed chapters to different books on among others carbon markets and climate change regulation.

* * * * * * * *

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

The aim of this workshop is to increase the participants’ knowledge about the methodology behind the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) and the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) — in this session, specifically on selected criteria including Human Rights, Supply Chain, and Human Capital. A workshop session will also be included on how institutional investors are utilizing data from the CSA and ESG data in their investment decision-making.

Click here for more info and to register.

RobecoSAM and Governance & Accountability Institute expert representatives will contribute to the meeting overall and in particular present content (including analysis and slide decks) that address each of the criterion. Representatives from CSA-responding corporations that are high scorers in the respective CSA criterion will respond and share their perspective and experience in crafting responses to the CSA.

Participants can expect to take away a deeper understanding of:

  • The DJSI 2017 – results and learnings.
  • Effective approaches to assessing established and emerging sustainability topics in the CSA.
  • Rationale, the business case, performance, and results from last year’s assessment, and learn more about major challenges for companies, especially in the CSA Criteria of Human Rights, Human Capital, and Supply Chain.
  • How institutional investors/fiduciaries are utilizing ESG data.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

Sustainable Business Practices Can Impact The Bottom Line, Say This Quartet of Researchers — Lessons Here For Busy Execs

You can read our Top Story this week first and then you can forward this important commentary to your C-Suite if the execs there have been wondering how corporate sustainability may be impacting a company’s bottom linein positive ways.

A quartet of experts writing in the Harvard Business Review has responded to the short-term, bottom-line pressures that we hear so much about throughout much of Corporate America.

To develop their case, the authors (three academics and a consultant) looked at Brazil’s giant beef industry, a challenge for studying considering the size and complexity of the industry and its long-term impact on the planet.  (Brazil is the world’s largest beef exporter and second largest consumer market for beef products.)

Key finding:  “sustainable” and “deforestation-free” industry practices created significant financial benefits for all players in the industry value chain. Quantifying this, the authors found net benefits to ranchers ranging from 12% to 23% of revenues.  Sustainable agricultural practices provided the most financial benefits, while the uptake of deforestation-free commitments over time reduced risk to the industry and company components.

Their approach demonstrated (they write) that measuring the value chain of sustainable business can be done and the sustainable business itself can be cost-effective.  Brazil’s beef industry impact on the plant has been intense (with de-forestation and GHG emissions) and there have been significant steps taken to address the issues involved.

One industry participant explained that while there is no price premium for sustainability alone, there is for quality, and the company’s quality immediately increased with the adoption of sustainable practices.  Today, 70% of their beef products are sold with a quality premium, from “zero” two years ago. That resulted in increased revenues and greater customer satisfaction.

While the focus is on the Brazil beef industry (and the value chain from grower through the processor to retail) we think there’s some good material here to help executives understand “the possible” bottom line impacts through sustainable business practices.

The authors are Tensie Whelan of NYU Stern School of Business, Center for Sustainable Business; Bruno Zappa, A. Kearney strategy consultant; Rodrigo Zeidan, of NYU-Shanghai and Fundacao Dom Cabril/Brazil; and Greg  Fishbein at The Nature Conservancy / Collaboration for Forests & Agriculture.

The academic authors worked with AT Kearney to develop the methodology for their case.  The work included research, data analysis and interviews with key players.  Organizations examined included McDonald’s; Carrefour; JBS, Mafrig, Antea Group (all in Brazil); Infalora; Instituto Centro de Vida (ICV); and, The Nature Conservancy.
And, they provided a link to the Excel spreadsheets on which they calculated the numbers for the article (it’s embedded in the post).

Top Stories This Week…

How Do We Measure Sustainability?
(Friday – September 08, 2017)
Source: EWN – Globally, there has been an increase in demand for higher transparency on environmental, social and governance issues.

DJSI Results Announced — Are You In / Out? Attend Our Workshop in Collaboration with RobecoSAM in New York City on October 24th

Many corporations that endeavor to be sustainable become a bit nervous as we pass Labor Day in the USA.  The rebalancing of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes is traditionally announced at that time.  Is my company in?  Out?  Increasingly, CEOs and other C-suite execs and board members (as well as numerous managers) are holding “membership” in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices in very high regard.

On September 7, 2017, the results were announced in Switzerland by RobecoSAM (the creators and managers of the DJSI) and S&P Dow Jones Indices (owners of the intellectual property and one of the world’s leading index providers).

Among the many new companies added to the Indices, three were announced in the official press release, Samsung Electronics, Ltd; BAT (British American Tobacco plc); and, ASML Holding NV.  And among the many unfortunate companies dropped from the index, the three mentioned in the release included Enbridge Inc; Reckitt Benckiser Group plc; and, Rio Tinto plc.

The DJSI were launched in 1999, and over time became the “gold standard” for corporate sustainability indexes.

Every year select corporations are invited to respond the company’s Corporate Sustainability Assessment (“CSA”) — a rigorous, rules-based online process for company managements’ response efforts. There are about 600 data points per company that is organized into one overall score. Certain criterion (topic sub-sections of the CSA) are added for specific sectors based on materiality, and each sector has different scoring weights applied to the various criterion based on how material they are to the sector.  (Note that the G&A Institute team assists client organizations in their response efforts each year.)

This year, the CSA assessed “Policy Influence” for the first time — assessing public companies’ lobbying activities.  And the Impact Measurement & Valuation Criteria were expanded to just about all industries. RobecoSAM sees Policy influence as a material issue for investors, especially in such countries as those where the revenues of public companies may exceed the GDP of that country.

RobecoSAM acknowledges that companies are aware of the need to “understand environmental and social profits and losses, but less than 10% have a viable valuation approach in place to provide detailed insights into potential E and S financial impacts.”

Top Stories This Week…

How Do We Measure Sustainability?
(Friday – September 08, 2017)
Source: EWN – Globally, there has been an increase in demand for higher transparency on environmental, social and governance issues.


A special all-day workshop is being offered to corporate managers, presented by G&A Institute in collaboration with RobecoSAM in New York City on Tuesday, October 24th at Baruch College/CUNY:

Demystifying The Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) & The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI)
Focused on Assessment Questions for
Human Rights, Human Capital & Supply Chain

Click here for more information and to register.

Highlights of the Workshop:  The aim of this workshop is to increase the participants’ knowledge and obtain advice on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) and the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) — in this session, specifically on selected criteria including Human Rights, Supply Chain, and Human Capital.

Representatives from high-scoring CSA-responding companies including 3M and Citi will share their perspectives and experience in crafting responses to the CSA.

Participants will also learn how institutional investors are utilizing data from the CSA and ESG data into their investment decision-making with a special guest from Bloomberg LLC.

Participants can expect to take away a deeper understanding of:

  • The DJSI 2017 – results, lessons, outlook.
  • Effective approaches to assessing established and emerging sustainability topics in the CSA.
  • Rationale, the business case, performance, and results from last year’s assessment, and learn more about major challenges for companies, especially in the CSA Criteria of Human Rights, Human Capital, and Supply Chain.
  • How institutional investors/fiduciaries are utilizing ESG data.

Early bird pricing is open through September 30th.
Get more details and register at: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

 

Practitioner Workshop: DEMYSTIFYING THE CSA & DJSI

Practitioner Workshop: DEMYSTIFYING THE CSA & DJSI
Focus on Assessment Questions for
Human Rights, Human Capital & Supply Chain 

October 24, 2017

Presented to you by G&A Institute in collaboration RobecoSAM
Hosted at Baruch College/CUNY in New York City

The aim of this workshop is to increase the participants’ knowledge and obtain advice on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) and the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) — in this session, specifically on selected criteria including Human Rights, Supply Chain, and Human Capital. A workshop session will also be included on how institutional investors are utilizing data from the CSA and ESG data in their investment decision-making.

RobecoSAM and Governance & Accountability Institute expert representatives will contribute to the Meeting overall and in particular present content (including analysis and slide decks) that address each of the criterion. Representatives from CSA-responding corporations that are high scorers in the respective CSA criterion will respond and share their perspective and experience in crafting responses to the CSA.

Participants can expect to take away a deeper understanding of:

  • The DJSI 2017 – results, learnings, outlook.
  • Effective approaches in assessing established and emerging sustainability topics in the CSA.
  • Rationale, the business case, performance, and results from last year’s assessment, and learn more about major challenges for companies, especially in the CSA Criteria of Human Rights, Human Capital, and Supply Chain.
  • How institutional investors / fiduciaries are utilizing ESG data.

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN

EARLY BIRD RATE: $995
(Available until September 30th. Full price: $1,190)

Registrations will be open until October 22nd, 2017.

AGENDA

Welcome to the Day 
– Hank Boerner, Co-Founder & Chairman, Governance & Accountability Institute
– Louis Coppola, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President, Governance & Accountability Institute
– Robert Dornau, Director, Senior Manager Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM

Workshop 1: Human Rights 
– Moderator: Louis Coppola, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President, Governance & Accountability Institute
– Robert Dornau, Director, Senior Manager Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM
– Ariel Meyerstein, Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability Program, Citi

Workshop 2: Human Capital 
– Moderator: Hank Boerner, Co-Founder & Chairman, Governance & Accountability Institute
– Robert Dornau, Director, Senior Manager Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM
– Tina M. Berg, Sustainability Specialist, 3M Corporate Social Responsibility (To be confirmed)

Networking Lunch

Workshop 3: Supply Chain 
– Moderator: Louis Coppola, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President, Governance & Accountability Institute & Board Member of Global Sourcing Council (GSC)
– Robert Dornau, Director, Senior Manager Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM
– Corporate Representative – To Be Announced

Workshop 4: ESG Data From an Investor Perspective 
– Hideki Suzuki, Senior ESG Analyst, Bloomberg LP

DJSI 2018 Outlook & Closing Remarks 
– Hank Boerner, Co-Founder & Chairman, Governance & Accountability Institute
– Louis Coppola, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President, Governance & Accountability Institute
– Robert Dornau, Director, Senior Manager Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM

DETAILS
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 — 8:45 am – 4:00 pm
Baruch College/ CUNY, Newman Vertical Campus 55 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10010

For information and to register click here.

About Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc. (www.ga-institute.com
Governance & Accountability Institute is a New York City-based sustainability research, consulting and educational services company working with corporate sector and investment community clients. Typical engagements include preparation of sustainability, CSR and citizenship reports; peer benchmarking on ESG issues and reporting; customized ESG research (environmental, social and governance performance); strategic materiality analysis; sustainable investor relations; corporate communications around sustainability; and assistance with stakeholder engagements. The company is the exclusive Data Partner for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for the USA, UK and the Republic of Ireland.

About RobecoSAM (www.robecosam.com
Founded in 1995, RobecoSAM is an investment specialist focused exclusively on Sustainability Investing. It offers asset management, indices, impact analysis and investing, sustainability assessments, and benchmarking services. The company’s asset management capabilities cater to institutional asset owners and financial intermediaries and cover a range of ESG-integrated investments, featuring a strong track record in resource efficiency-themed strategies. Together with S&P Dow Jones Indices, RobecoSAM publishes the globally recognized Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) as well as the S&P ESG Index series, the first index family to treat ESG as a standalone performance factor using the RobecoSAM Smart ESG methodology. Based on its Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA), an annual ESG analysis of over 3,900 listed companies, RobecoSAM has compiled one of the world’s most comprehensive databases of financially material sustainability information. The CSA data is also included in USD 86.5 billion of assets under management by the subsidiaries of the Robeco Group.

RobecoSAM is a sister company of Robeco, the Dutch investment management firm founded in 1929. Both entities are subsidiaries of the Robeco Group, whose shareholder is ORIX Corporation. As a reflection of its own commitment to advancing sustainable investment practices, RobecoSAM is a signatory of the PRI and UN Global Compact, a member of Eurosif, Swiss Sustainable Finance, Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Ceres and Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition (PDC). As of December 31, 2016, RobecoSAM had client assets under management, advice and/or license of approximately USD 16.1 billion.

For questions, contact Louis D. Coppola, Executive Vice President & Co-Founder, Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc. at Tel 646.430.8230 ext 14 or email lcoppola@ga-institute.com.

Millennials and Sustainable / Responsible / Impact Investing — A New Force To Be Reckoned With!

We Americans are fond of putting specific age cohorts in neatly assembled descriptors — the Silent Generation; the Greatest Generation; the Baby Boom Generation; Gen X and Gen Y.

Now in focus:  The Millennial Generation, fast approaching the vaunted celebrity status of the post-WW II Baby Boom Generation.  You’ll recall The Boomers were born in years 1946 to 1964 and were some 77 million American women and men in total.  For many years this population cohort dominated trends in education, business, popular culture, entertainment, politics, investing, and other societal activities.

Now we have a new dominant force coming to leadership in those categories. The Millennials are considered to be the last generation of the 20th Century, those born between 1982 and 2004 — estimated at 76 million people, according to demographic experts Howe and Strauss.  (Time magazine puts the dates as 1980-2000; The New York Times, 1976-1990. Whatever the exact years, this is the generation that will dominate at least the first half of the 21st Century.)

Even now, the Millennials are said to be outnumbering the number of Boomers in the workforce of 2017 — they are wielding tremendous influence on “work in America.”

What about their investing and wealth building activities?  The Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing has some guidance for us in the findings of their recent look at 1,000 individual active investors — the Institute’s MS Sustainable Signals survey.

Highlights:  75% of all those surveyed and 86% of the Millennial investors surveyed think of themselves as interested in sustainable investing.  The first MS Institute survey was in 2015; the findings were similar to the 2017 attitudes.  But, the 2017 survey found a significant increase in those Millennials responding as  “Very Interested”, which rose from a level of 28% two years ago to 38% in the recent survey round.

This, the Morgan Stanley Institute surmises is at least partly responsible for the spike in U.S. sustainable, responsible & impact investing between 2014 (established by US SIF survey at US$6.57 trillion in AUM) to $8.27 trillion in 2016 — a dramatic, 33% growth rate.

Audrey Choi, Chief Sustainability Officer and Chief Marketing Officer at Morgan Stanley says:  “As widespread attention to sustainability continues to increase, consumers and investors alike are now more than ever factoring sustainability issues into their investment decisions.”

Note that Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing  “…works to drive scalable investment solutions that seek to deliver positive social or environmental impact alongside the market-rate returns clients expect…”
There’s a link in our Top Story to the 93-page report.

To think about:  In a commentary on TechTarget “WhatIs.com”, the author said:  “Millennials are concerned about social justice and will not support institutions that they see in conflict with social and economic equality.  As such, Millennials are exerting their influence on the world around them…”

Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing is helping to chart that effect in the capital markets.

Top Stories This Week…

Millennials Are Driving Global Sustainable Investment
(Friday – August 18, 2017)
Source: Clean Technica – A new investor survey conducted by leading global financial services company Morgan Stanley has revealed that three-quarters of investors and 86% of Millennial investors are interested in sustainable investing.

Broadening Activism Among Institutional Investor Classes on ESG Issues – Here to Stay, Says Proxy Advisor CEO

“Operating under the radar” — that is, various categories of institutional investors getting active in the “investor activist” game?  Bruce Goldfarb, CEO of Okapi Partners, describes a sea change that he sees that is underway, the trend in how large institutions are approaching in the [investor] push for corporate change.  The lens is the annual corporate proxy season and the many campaigns therein, including the 2017 campaign.  Okapi is one of the influential proxy advisors for both investor and companies, working on some 48 campaigns during 2017.

What did the firm’s leader see as patterns?  Well, for starters, large mutual fund advisories and ETF complexes (like Vanguard, Fidelity, BlackRock, State Street) — these organizations with many trillions’ of dollars in corporate holdings in their portfolios, “…have become increasingly intent on holding public company boards and management teams accountable in higher ESG standards,” CEO Goldfarb notes in our Top Story (published on the digital Forbes Investing platform).

As many of us well know, the first iteration of ESG was about the “G” — for several decades, the focus was on corporate governance issues.  (Such as: investors pushing for separation of Chair and CEO, the often described example of a popular campaign in the G space).  Over time, the emphasis on environmental and social issues (“E” and “S”) broadened the approach to the familiar ESG measurements because the E and S issues are tied to share performance and confidence (or lack of) in management.

The CEO in the interview points out that a climate change proposal at ExxonMobil recently was passed by a wide margin (investors supported the demand that the company publish an annual assessment of the impact of global warming policies) while a decade ago a push by investors in proxy campaigning to separate chair and CEO positions and a few environmental proposals failed by a very large margin.  Things are a-changin’ in the proxy arena.

In 2017, there have been (so far) 430 resolutions filed that address “S” and “E” issues, compared to 370 a year earlier.  Investors, says CEO Goldfarb, see the connection between ESG policies and stock performance more clearly now.

In our conversations with corporate managers (at all size enterprises) it is clear that the managers want to press the Investing Case upward to their bosses in the C-suite and board room.  Why should we make the investment in a sustainability effort, the question often goes, and the answer is that among other things, corporate performance and a scorecard of sorts on top management has a proxy, too — that is, the ESG performance of the enterprise!

You’ll find more from perspectives shared by the Okapi Partners CEO in the Forbes interview by staffer Antoine Gara in our Top Story this week.

Top Stories This Week…

An Insider Explains Why Wall Street’s Big Money Focus On Sustainability Is Here To Stay
(Friday – July 28, 2017)
Source: Forbes – When a hedge fund launches a major activist campaign calling for changes at companies here and in overseas markets it’s real news.