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ESG Reporting 101: What You Need To Know

ESG Reporting

In this guide

Starting out in your ESG journey, or looking to take it to the next level? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

As environmental, social, and governance reporting becomes mandatory for an increasing number of companies around the world, having a solid ESG strategy has evolved from a “nice to have” to an essential part of any organisation’s toolkit.

Whether you’re driven by regulations, public demands or a desire to go above and beyond, here’s what you need to know.


How are companies using energy and managing their environmental impacts? How prepared are they to face the challenges of climate change? Examples: Carbon emissions, Climate change effects, Pollution, Waste disposal, Renewable energy, Resource depletion


How are companies fostering people and culture, and what kind of impact does that have on their own employees and the wider community? Examples: Supply chain, Discrimination, Political contributions, Diversity, Human rights, Community relations


How are companies directed and controlled, and how are leaders held accountable? Examples: Executive compensation, Shareholders' rights Takeover defence, Staggered boards, Independent directors, Board elections

ESG Scores

You may have seen companies publish ESG scores from organisations such as Bloomberg, S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI), or others. Ratings measure the degree to which a company's economic value is at risk due to ESG factors and therefore whether a company is investable. Companies that are willing to more thoroughly report ESG performance than others tend to score higher. A lack of solid, transparent ESG reporting can hurt an organisation's ESG score.

The global issuance of bonds for environmental, social, and governance goals in 2021 was on pace to hit $1 trillion for the first time ever, more than double what was sold in all of 2020.

- Bloomberg 2021

The demand for ESG data.


Establishing trust in data is the top ESG concern for finance leaders across Europe, according to a Workiva survey.*


The impact of ESG requirements on reporting timelines is the second biggest challenge, with over a third (36%) naming it as their main worry.


Almost the same number of finance professionals (34%) are primarily concerned about auditing processes and requirements.

*Workiva commissioned a survey of 539 finance leaders across Europe in the Spring of 2022.

Sustainability initiatives at corporations appear to drive better financial performance due to mediating factors such as improved risk management and more innovation.

- ESG and Financial Performance, NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business and Rockefeller Asset Management, 2021

Strong ESG strategies are linked to better outcomes.

Producing a strong ESG report is about more than just meeting local requirements. Companies that go above and beyond ‘tick-box’ compliance, while reporting in a clear and reliable way, see a number of benefits:

Increased Trust

Solid ESG reporting strategies demonstrate good governance, transparency and future-readiness to investors, strengthening overall trust in the company.

Stronger Reputation

Knowing how to communicate well with customers about ESG performance and strategy can help solidify brand reputation, avoid greenwashing claims and improve overall market perception.

Better Performance

A McKinsey analysis found that ESG reporting increases equity returns 63% of the time, while a Nasdaq report revealed that companies were less volatile in the 30 day period after making public ESG disclosures.

Employee Retention

ESG performance has been linked to happier staff—and happy employees work harder, stay longer, and attract more high-quality talent. A report by Marsh & McLennan found that “ESG performance will become increasingly important to attracting and retaining talent” in coming years.

Is ESG reporting mandatory?

In the European Union and the United Kingdom, ESG reporting is mandatory for most large listed companies. Soon, considerably more EU-based organisations will need to start producing ESG reports as a result of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). The UK is also currently tightening its reporting requirements, while in Switzerland, mandatory ESG reporting is now being introduced for the first time. Outside of Europe, many countries are now doing the same, with mandatory requirements emerging in New Zealand, Canada and Malaysia. While ESG reporting is not presently a legal requirement for companies in the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed climate disclosure reporting for listed companies as of 2024.

ESG reporting across regions.