NEW YORK — S&P 500 companies are being urged to adopt guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative to improve public disclosure of environmental, social and labor issues that can affect financial performance, said Kenneth Sylvester, assistant comptroller for pension policy, New York City, at a teleconference on Oct. 5.
The $217.5 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, and the New York City comptroller's office, which oversees the $93 billion New York City Retirement Systems, are among institutional investors that signed a letter Ceres will send to CEOs of the more than 400 companies in the S&P 500 index that don't already follow the GRI standards. GRI is an independent international network of corporate, labor, environmental, social and academic groups. Ceres is a network of pension funds, institutional investors and public interest groups concerned with corporate environmental issues.
Fewer than 100 U.S. companies comply with the reporting standards, although some 900 non-U.S. companies report under the voluntary standards, said Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, which is coordinating the effort.
"The GRI framework is the most widely used, internationally accepted set of metrics for reporting a company's performance on issues pertaining to sustainable prosperity," the letter says. "Since the information contained in a GRI report is critical to our ability to evaluate a company's risk profile and long-term viability, we are asking all companies in the S&P 500 to join the hundreds of firms who are currently using the GRI guidelines to provide investors with complete, transparent and balanced reporting. "
Executives of Baxter International Inc., PPL Corp., and Office Depot Inc. said at the teleconference that their companies all report under GRI and urged the other S&P 500 companies to follow the standards.
Separately, GRI's latest set of standards, introduced Oct. 5, makes climate change a key financial indicator for disclosure.