More U.S. Companies Reporting on Sustainability

More U.S.-based corporations are reporting the steps they are taking to become more sustainable, according to a recent survey from the Conference Board, an independent business research association working in the public interest, and Bloomberg News. To do this, the corporations are adopting the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework, the most widely used outline of standards and guidelines that allow corporations to disclose their economic, environmental, and social impacts.

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According to The Conference Board study, “Sustainability Practices 2015,” the number of S&P 500 corporations that reported their sustainability initiatives using the GRI guidelines increased from 25 percent in 2013 to 31 percent in 2014. The report also indicated that eight out of 10 industries have now increased sustainability reporting with “telecommunication services” showing the greatest increase of more than six percentage points.

“We have seen a steady increase in the number of very large corporations reporting [on] their sustainability initiatives,” says Stephen P. Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in Greening the cleaning industry, and CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools. “However it is not just large corporations. Smaller companies are doing so as well.”

Ashkin’s last point is supported in the survey: It found that companies making less than $1 billion annually had an average disclosure rate of 25 percent in 2014, up from 15 percent the previous year.

U.S. building owners and managers are also getting much more sustainability-focused and reporting on their efforts in recent years, according to Ashkin, “and this trend is moving increasingly into the professional cleaning industry as well.”

As to the professional cleaning industry’s sustainability initiatives, Ashkin believes “we will see the same movement we see with giant S&P corporations. Larger jansan companies will increasingly become more focused on their economic, environmental, and social impacts and this will filter down to the smaller firms over time.”