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Manifest is a founding signatory of the Best Practice Principles for Shareholder Voting

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Sustainability Governance

Manifest Say on SustainabilityThe Manifest Say on Sustainability framework offers investment grade research and  data tools to understand the sustainability governance of quoted companies. 

Manifest’s Say on Sustainability framework also supports voting and stewardship by integrating  insightful analysis into voting policy and guidelines, just like a Say on Pay.

Understanding Sustainability Governance

The Say on Sustainability framework rates global companies on an A-F scale based on six pillars of good governance disclosure. These pillars, and the underlying questions, were developed after of a year-long review of the world’s leading academic papers, together with legal, regulatory and independent sustainability disclosure initiatives. From this, our expert team identified the critical features of good sustainability governance which support superior company performance.

Manifest provides consistent, accurate, comparable data which is material to ownership

Disclosure & Transparency What and where are companies disclosing information? Is there risk recognition, socio-environmental performance data or target-setting? Is data timely and accessible?
Management Processes Who owns sustainability in the firm, who is responsible, how senior?
Are management systems disclosed &/or certified?
Risk Management Policies, performance, targets, linkage to executive pay
Stakeholder Relations Suppliers, value perception, staff rewards, charity, political donations
Audit & Verification Assessment standards used, external verification
Public Participation Recognition of initiatives including  CDP, UN Global Compact, GRI, SASB etc.

In addition to individual company profiles, the Say on Sustainability can be incorporated into shareholder voting policies and custom stock screening and portfolio bench-marking models.

Embedding Sustainability Governance

  • Published through the Bloomberg ESG platform
  • Include key metrics to support the Tranisition Pathway Initiative
  • Incorporated in the Association of Member Nominated Trustees Red Lines Voting initiative
  • Incorporated into extended, custom voting guidelines for asset managers and pension funds
  • Incorporate GHG disclosures and targets to monitor progression and integration with pay and reward
  • Five year time-series CSV data set
  • Develop custom benchmarks and quant strategies

Say on Sustainability is fully integrated with Manifest’s global governance, director pay and  biographical data, AGM vote results and key performance/risk indicator relational data sets.

What do Companies Say on Sustainability?

A surprising amount. Historically many companies have used a great deal of boiler plate or “greenwash” to describe their sustainability governance. There are, however, promising signs of better integrated reporting on the horizon. Despite many positive developments, Manifest’s most recent annual review of sustainability reporting showed:

  • 62% of independent sustainability reports were not up to date with the financial year assessed
  • Worrying, 11% of those were two or more years out of date – with six years being the most tardy example
  • Only 32% of companies dedicate responsibility for sustainability to a board leader or specific committee
  • Just 8% of the US companies analysed were able to meet the quality of reporting achieved by their peers in the UK, EU or Oceania
  • Only half of the companies surveyed were linking some form of sustainability metrics to variable pay

What do sustainability leaders think of Manifest’s framework?

Bob Eccles

Professor Robert G Eccles, Founding Chairman of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and one of the founders of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC).

Commenting on the publication of Manifest’s 2015 annual review, Bob Eccles, founding chairman of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board said: “The Manifest ‘Say on Sustainability” is a carefully done and important action-oriented research project. While it notes some modest progress in sustainability disclosures by some of the world’s largest companies, it also points out some very specific areas where improvements are needed such as in quality through standardized metrics, timeliness with financial reporting, more explicit linkages between financial and non-financial performance, and materiality determination. The latter ultimately rests with the board. Here too the report notes progress but areas where corporate governance needs to be improved. Manifest rightly points out that boards have a fiduciary duty to the company, not only to shareholders. This means they need to identity the significant audiences to the company which is the basis of determining materiality for reporting purposes. I suggest that this be done on an annual basis through a simple one-page board of directors ‘Statement of Significant Audiences and Materiality.’ This modest suggestion will lead to big improvements in all the key areas this report discusses.”

Find out more

To find out more about how you can have a Say on Sustainability please complete the form below and we will be in touch.