Leading ESG experts convened by Benchmark Digital underscore need for investment-grade ESG data as disclosure frameworks converge, new regulations emergeAt Benchmark Digital’s inaugural ESG Executive Collaboration Forum, panelists discuss the importance of transparent, verifiable and auditable ESG data as shifting regulatory landscapes accelerate the convergence of voluntary frameworks for corporate sustainability disclosures.
CINCINNATI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Benchmark Digital (Benchmark), a leading provider of cloud-based Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) software solutions, last week convened its inaugural ESG Executive Collaboration Forum, where expert speakers from across the ESG spectrum explained the importance of investment-grade ESG data to support the alignment of corporate sustainability reporting with regular financial reporting amid increasing regulation of corporate ESG disclosures.
“If there’s one clear takeaway from our first ESG Forum, it’s that ESG is being tied to performance— financial and otherwise—and companies need to produce ESG data that is not only accurate and verifiable, but also decision useful,” remarked Benchmark Digital Corporate Development & Strategy Officer Donavan Hornsby. “Generating and reporting investment-grade data is how companies will satisfy the expectations of their stakeholders and, equally important, how they’ll engender an ESG culture that powers a virtuous cycle of improvement. This is about more than managing risks; it’s about resilience.”
The Virtual event
In this debut session of a recurring series of virtual forums designed to help ESG practitioners stay up-to-date and engage their peers on ESG issues and best practices, experts discussed the implications for companies of increasing demands from institutional investors, stock exchanges, consumers and governmental bodies worldwide for accountability and transparency as concerns over corporate sustainability continue to grow.
The virtual event featured commentary from Mary Foley, Expert Services Strategy Director at EHS compliance management solutions provider Enhesa; Joyce Coffee, Founder & President of climate adaptation strategy consultancy Climate Resilience Consulting; and Sarah Fortt-Lawson, Counsel at global law firm Vinson & Elkins.
Topics included both the convergence of non-binding disclosure frameworks and their accelerating alignment with new and emerging regulatory frameworks in the E.U., U.K. and U.S. Also discussed was the transition of large and mid-market companies from conventional narrative-based approaches to ESG disclosure to more formal reporting-based approaches as performance on these metrics is increasingly evaluated against financial outcomes.
Inside The ESG Space
“The lines between voluntary and required disclosure are blurring,” said Sarah Fortt-Lawson, who underscored the value of investment-grade ESG data in her summary of the trends she sees in the ESG space. “Ultimately, it’s really about ESG strategy being driven more by operational and strategic considerations as opposed to disclosure and stakeholder engagement alone.”
Attendees also learned about the material advantages of investment-grade ESG data and, in turn, the sustained ESG performance outcomes it enables.
In a poignant nod to the impetus behind the “Finance Day” of COP26, Joyce Coffee explained, “We’re seeing that climate risk is in fact an investment risk… Perhaps because of that, we can also really look forward to resilience becoming a competitive advantage… I think it’s really important that those of us who are keen on saving lives, improving livelihoods and stabilizing the middle-class market have a manifesto to build resilience for all rather than avoid risk for some.”
A recording of the remarks and presentations delivered during last week’s inaugural session is accessible here. To learn more about the ESG Executive Collaboration Forum series, register for the December 8, 2021 session and recommend future ESG-related topics, visit the ESG Executive Collaboration Forum registration page here.
About Benchmark ESG™
Benchmark ESG™ (the next generation of Gensuite®) enables companies to implement robust cross-functional Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Solutions – locally, globally and across diverse operating profiles. Our comprehensive cloud-based software suite features intuitive, best-practice process functionality, flexible configurations and powerful extensions. For over two decades, we’ve helped companies manage safe & sustainable operations worldwide, with a focus on fast return on investment (ROI), service excellence and continuous innovation. Join over 1,500,000 users that trust Benchmark ESG™ with their software system needs for operational risk and compliance, EHS, sustainability, product stewardship and responsible sourcing.