Are Public Companies Including Sustainability Information In The Traditional Financial Communications Channels?

Posted on December 4, 2015 by Hank Boerner – Chair & Chief Strategist

#Business & Society #SRI #Sustainable Investing 

We are almost at calendar year end and for many companies approaching fiscal year end — and that means busy-busy-busy times in the corporate suite as senior managements prepare 4Q / year end results for the earnings release and the details of the earnings call to be scheduled not too far into the new year 2016.  The preparation for the 10-k will be underway in earnest at year-end.  So – reflecting the heightened interest of the investment community in sustainable investing — what about companies including narrative and metrics related to the progress of the company’s sustainability journey?  Are companies including these references?  Will they?  Our colleague, Pam Styles (Fellow of the Institute and principal of Next Level Investor Relations LLC) writes about this on the AlphaSense blog, exploring the question:  should ESG / Sustainability be coming up on earnings press releases and conference calls?
In conversations with U.S. corporate managers, we hear over and over – no one in the investment community ever asks about our CR or sustainability efforts/progress on the earnings call.  (It’s very different in Europe, where sustainability questions are more mainstreamed. Pam includes European company trends in her article.)  Pam’s research identified a small number of U.S. public companies that did include references to sustainability in their earnings releases, included references in their Proxy statement, in their 10-k, or in other financial communications separate of the many sustainability reports published by public companies.  Companies referencing sustainability topics included  Alcoa, Cardinal Health, Hormel Foods, and Campbell’s Soup.
Trendsetters:  Using the AlphaSense resource, Pam found eight U.S. companies that back in 2010 were referencing ESG/Sustainability in their investor communications:  Emerson Electric, Chesapeake Energy, CR Bard, Gentex, Google, St Jude Medical, EQT Corp, and electric utility Vectren.  Forward to 2012 – Baxter made comments on its annual conference call.  What’s ahead?  Will more U.S. companies expand their traditional financial communications to include sustainability information?  Read the findings in Pam’s commentary below.
ESG / Sustainability — Is the Topic Coming up on Earnings Calls?
(Wednesday – November 25, 2015)

Source: Alpha Sense – Pamela Styles, principal, Next Level Investor Relations LLC
 – There is growing evidence of attention to ESG / Sustainability in mainstream investing. Global ESG / Sustainability investments are now 30% of all professionally managed funds with significant growth both in the U.S. and UK …