A significant number of large, global industrial companies have been carefully cultivating a public image of being responsible in ESG performance (environmental, social, governance). VW is among those enterprises marketing to consumers and businesses worldwide (in both developing and more developed economies) that publish sustainability reports that chronicle their ESG progress and achievements. But – what if the information is misleading, inaccurate, or worse, utterly untrue? What if data sets and narrative are incomplete, and doesn’t tell the whole story of the company’s responsibility journey? Or really undermines investment in the journey itself?
In order for this critical ESG strategy & performance information to be decision useful for important stakeholders, it must be accurate and reliable. When the management of a company makes decisions utilizing ESG data to allocate resources, can they depend on the accuracy of the information? When a public employee pension fund invests on behalf of its beneficiaries utilizing ESG disclosures as a part of their due diligence, can they all rely on the data being accurate — or will they lose part of assets that are important to beneficiaries ‘retirement because of a serious omission or inaccurate or false data?
A growing body of research and evidence argue that sustainability data is in fact “material” to investors as well as other stakeholders, and make the case that this type of ESG-related information should be measured, managed, and disclosed with the same rigor and professionalism that financial data is disclosed.
Read more at:
VW Sustainability Reports May Have Hinted at Problems
(Saturday – October 17, 2015)
Source: Bloomberg BNA – Research suggests there may have been hints of the still-unfolding diesel emissions scandal at Volkswagen AG hidden in corporate sustainability reports…. “It’s definitely something that’s going to be looked at as a case study for years and years to come around sustainability,” Louis Coppola, Executive Vice President and head of information technology at the Governance & Accountability Institute, told Bloomberg BNA…. “We’ve seen time and time again that self-regulation and voluntary reporting of this type of information is better than nothing, but it’s not good enough,” Coppola said, adding that VW’s reports are proof that in order for sustainability data to be trustworthy, it needs to be accurate.