EY recently issued a report outlining investor expectations for the 2021 proxy season based on conversations with more than 60 institutional investors representing $38 trillion in assets under management. One topic that’s sure to be top of mind for many investors this proxy season is portfolio company ESG reporting and the report provides tips for how companies can enhance ESG reporting.
When assessing a company’s ESG practices and performance, the report found investors place the most value on direct company engagement, which is reassuring since direct engagement can help ensure investors receive a fulsome picture of company ESG initiatives and progress. Third-party ratings aren’t as high on the list in terms of perceived value but 40% of investors still ranked them as a medium or high-value information source. This excerpt describes how investors want companies to help ensure their disclosures are picked up by third-party data aggregators:
Some large asset managers rely on third-party data providers to aggregate and structure company disclosures in a way that is more scalable and efficient to their processes, allowing raw ESG data across thousands of companies to be uploaded into their internal platforms for assessment. While investors generally acknowledged limitations of third-party data (e.g., gaps, data quality issues) they stressed their need to have data at scale. To make these processes successful, investors encouraged companies to take a more proactive role in confirming that their data is being picked up correctly by leading third-party providers.
The report says other ESG reporting enhancements investors would like to see align with one or more of the following: focus on what is material and the connection to strategy, align disclosures with external frameworks, disclose metrics, performance and goals, consider integrating material ESG disclosures alongside traditional frameworks and enhance data credibility through assurance.
-Lynn Jokela, TheCorporateCounsel.net February 11, 2021
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