New Research Released by G&A Institute – Corporate Sustainability – What Matters? An Analysis of 1,246 Global Organizations’ Sustainability Reports to Examine Materiality Across 35 Sectors for all 84 GRI Performance Indicators

Posted on June 26, 2014 by Louis Coppola


By Louis D Coppola @ G&A Institute..
Sustainability_WhatMatters_LOGOSustainability – “What Matters?” — That is the question for company managements and investors as they prepare sustainability / corporate responsibility reports.
Research results released recently by the Governance & Accountability Institute attempts to answer the question for company managements in 35 different sectors, by examining the disclosure practices of 1,246 global sustainability reporters using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework in year 2012.
About the Analysis

  • Analyzed 1,246 GRI reporting companies and organizations;
  • Categorized in 35 sectors as defined by GRI;
  • Examined the level of disclosure of all 84 GRI performance indicators (KPIs) for each company;
  • Ranked 1-84 the disclosures that were found to be most to least material by reporters in the sector, for each of the 35 sectors;
  • Converted the GRI G3 and G3.1 Indicators to the new G4 Indicators for forward planning for companies using the G4 framework for their next report.

In 2011 and 2012 the Institute published its annual research report titled, “Sustainability – Does it Matter?”, these efforts analyzed the S&P 500 companies for their Sustainability reporting (or non-reporting) and type of reporting, tracking positive third party recognitions the companies enjoyed in the form of financial stock outperformance, inclusion in reputational lists; favorable rankings, ratings, and scores; and selection for investable index inclusions.
Hank Boerner, Chairman of G&A commented: “We found through our research that corporate sustainability surely does matter. The big picture from these results also showed the dramatic growth of Sustainability reporting in the S&P 500 with 20% in 2011, and 52% in 2012’s report. Investors and stakeholders are playing closer attention now to corporate sustainability disclosure.”
Earlier this month The G&A Institute team updated this big picture research with a flash report to show that for the 2013 reporting year 72% of the S&P 500 now report on Sustainability. As the number of organizations publishing sustainability or corporate responsibility reports is dramatically increasing, so too, is the focus on determining the materiality of content of reports.
Louis D. Coppola, G&As Executive VP, co-founder and the report architect:  “The original question–  ‘Sustainability – Does it Matter?’ — being answered definitively, we adjusted focus (and sharpened the question) in 2013 to ‘Sustainability – What Matters?’. This new research delves into 1,246 reports, divided into 35 sectors, to find out ‘What Matters?’ the most and least across 84 GRI performance indicators.”
“Disclosure overload” has become increasingly overwhelming to both the publishers and readers of corporate sustainability reports. Many of the enterprises now publishing sustainability reports have their resources spread thin trying to respond to many indicators (no matter how irrelevant or immaterial it may be to their business). The investors, and other readers of the reports may find it hard to cut through the overwhelming amount of information to find the key pieces of data and narrative that really matter.
G&A’s Louis Coppola observed: “As sustainability reporting becomes more mainstream the process is also maturing with an increased focus on materiality. Determining what sustainability issues are material — what really matters —  to an organization with its own unique attributes is key to making a real impact with the report, and making the business case for sustainability. When organizations try to do everything at once, they wind up accomplishing very little, and waste precious resources. Through this research we hope to empower company management to better identify what their peers see as the specific sustainability issues that they can focus their resources on to create significant return in the form of new opportunities for the company, its stakeholders and investors.”
The complimentary research report containing the top 10 and bottom 10 indicators and additional information for each of the 35 sectors analyzed is available at:
The full rankings for all 84 indicators for each of the 35 sectors are available for purchase at:
Noted G&A Chairman Hank Boerner: “The results of these continuing research and analysis projects are made publicly available as part of the Institute’s mission of sharing news, research and commentary. The research helps to make the business case, and the investment case, for company managements to embrace sustainability strategies and programs, and increase their disclosure and reporting on their sustainability journey.”

# # #

About G&A Institute (
A New York-based, private sector company providing sustainability-focused services and resources to corporate and investment community clients, including: Issue Counseling & Sustainability Strategies; Sustainability Reporting; Materiality Assessments; Stakeholder Engagement; Benchmarking; Investor Relations; Communications; Coaching, Team Building & Training; Issues Monitoring & Customized Research; Third Party Recognitions. G&A is the exclusive Data Partner for the GRI in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
On the G&A Institute web site there is additional information available on the Fact Sheet: What Matters Project ( The resulting “most important” to “least important” ranking for the 35 sectors is available to media on a case-by-case basis please contact: Peter Hamilton (