Series: The top five trends in corporate responsibility - data and disclosures

20 April 2018

by Jonathan Grant and Jacqui Machin in our sustainability team

In our fifth and final post in our series on the main trends we’re seeing in corporate responsibility, we turn the spotlight on the role of data and disclosures.

5. A more rigorous, quantitative approach to CR metrics and targets

CEOs across every region and country recognise that the world is moving away from measuring prosperity primarily through financial measures (e.g. GDP) and towards the use of multifaceted metrics (such as quality-of-life indices).  However, the use of broader metrics in the business environment is still limited. Twenty five years on from the idea of triple bottom line, it’d be a stretch to say we’ve moved far past traditional financial accounting.

As companies tackle CR  issues, they need to be more rigorous and quantitative in their approach. For example, in the past, emissions targets were, frankly, a bit random. There are now ‘standards’ for climate action, with widespread adoption of science-based targets for greenhouse gas emissions or commitments to 100% renewable energy.

Leading companies are now considering how their other CR targets can also focus on maximising end impact. How business engages with understanding their impacts in terms of the 169 targets underpinning the SDGs will be interesting to watch. But no matter how it evolves, we think we’ll start to see an acceleration in the use of more comprehensive and integrated performance measures driving strategy and business performance.

When analysing risk, companies are also taking a far more evidence-based and quantitative approach. Following the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, many companies will use climate scenarios to assess the risks that climate change poses to their operations and value chains. Investors are expecting more quantified financial information about climate risks and opportunities, in mainstream financial filings.  This is a significant shift away from the anecdotes and emissions data provided in climate disclosures in the past.

Our CR and sustainability specialists expect 2018 to be another rollercoaster year. The businesses that will thrive in these conditions will be those that genuinely engage and collaborate with a broad set of  stakeholders, set out a clear and genuine purpose that resonates with their business, and back it up with rigorous numbers.


*Many thanks to the following for their contribution to this series:

  • Emma Cox, Head of Purpose; PwC UK Leader, Sustainability & Climate Change
  • Callum Douglas, Director, Corporate Responsibility, PwC China
  • Niall Dunne, former CSO, BT Group
  • Wineke Haagsma, Head of CR PwC Europe
  • Celine Herweijer, Partner, PwC UK
  • Bridget Jackson, Corporate Sustainability Director, PwC UK
  • Kirsty Jennings, PwC Global CR Leader
  • Geoff Lane, Partner, PwC UK
  • Megan Naidoo, Partner, PwC South Africa
  • Malcolm Preston, Global Leader Sustainability & Climate Change
  • Hannes Reinisch, Sustainability & Impact Assessment Leader, PwC Middle East
  • Shannon Schuyler, Chief Purpose Officer; Responsible Business Leader, PwC US
  • James Temple, Director, Corporate Responsibility, PwC Canada
  • Rosalie Wilkie, Partner, PwC Australia