Moves are underway around the world to define and mandate reporting on the sustainability of companies' operations. Using the aftermath of the crisis as a cover, securities regulators, industry bodies such as FASB and IASB and investor groups are looking at how companies can usefully report on the sustainability - environmental, operational and financial - of their businesses.
The latest move comes from Singapore where the stock exchange SGX has issued a policy paper on whether or nor to mandate sustainability reporting for all companies listed on the exchange. The policy paper calls for expressions from the public prior to a deadline of October 29. SGX does not say whether or not it will introduce mandatory sustainability reporting, but it hints that it might.
"Investors who lead world opinion expect listed companies to be accountable for their financial results, how they achieve the results, and what impact they have on the communities within which they operate. SGX encourages more listed companies to commit to sustainability practices and reporting," it says in the preamble to the policy document.
The move comes a few weeks after the creation of the International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC), a working group of companies, investors and industry bodies to find ways to improve corporate reporting.
The scope of the IIRC is wider than sustainability, but sustainability is nevertheless likely to form a major part of any upheaval in the reporting process. Indeed, no less a body than the G20 has said that it wants changes to the global system of reporting so that all company reports follow the same global standard. Such an overhaul is likely to be very protracted. But in the meantime, it looks as if sustainability reports will form part of the eventual package. CFOs who are still behind the curve had better start planning now.