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Published: 22 January 2020

Toward Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation

At the 2017 Annual Meeting in Davos, CEOs from the World Economic Forum International Business Council (IBC) issued the “Compact for Responsive and Responsible Leadership”, which has been signed by more than 140 CEOs. The Compact states that “society is best served by corporations that have aligned their goals to the long‑term goals of society,” and it identifies the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the roadmap for that alignment.

Since then, the IBC has been addressing some of the practical challenges involved in balancing short-and longer‑term business pressures in order to ensure that shareholders and other stakeholders prosper together. One of these challenges is the lack of consistency by which companies measure and report to investors and other stakeholders the shared and sustainable value they create. At its summer 2019 meeting in Geneva, the IBC launched a project to develop a proposal for consideration at its winter 2020 meeting in Davos‑Klosters for how its members could measure and disclose meaningful and relevant aspects of their performance on environmental, social and governance matters and their contribution to progress on the SDGs on a consistent and comparable basis.

This report proposes a common, core set of metrics and recommended disclosures that IBC members could use to align their mainstream reporting and, in so doing, reduce fragmentation and encourage faster progress towards a systemic solution, perhaps to include a generally accepted international accounting standard. To the maximum extent practicable, the report incorporates well‑established metrics and disclosures for the express purpose of building upon the extensive and rigorous work that has already been done by those who have developed the existing standards. The objective is to amplify those standards and more fully harness their synergies rather than create a new standard altogether.

As the Forum community assembles for its 50th Annual Meeting under the theme of “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”, it is our expectation that this report and the discussion it generates will serve to further illuminate how companies and their investors and other stakeholders can work together to apply the principles on which the Forum was founded, as expressed most recently in the Davos Manifesto 2020: “The Universal Purpose of a Company in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

As CEOs, we want to create long‑term value to shareholders by delivering solid returns for shareholders AND by operating a sustainable business model that addresses the long‑term goals of (the) society, as provided for in the SDG roadmap. At the same time, data on responsible business and sustainability is proliferating, enabling companies to better understand their impact and implement responsible strategies. What we seek is a general framework for companies to demonstrate their long‑term sustainability; a framework that integrates financial metrics along with relevant non‑financial criteria such as ESG considerations, gender equality, compensation practices, supply chain management, and other activities..

—Brian Moynihan, Chairman and CEO Bank of America
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