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Nasdaq creates ESG reporting guide to help companies and investors

Nasdaq released a global guide Wednesday to help public and private companies report on ESG governance.

The 2019 ESG Reporting Guide incorporates widely used third-party reporting methodologies and is aimed at helping companies navigate evolving worldwide standards on ESG data disclosure.

Many exchanges are seeing demand for help navigating the increasing ESG information demands from investors and other stakeholders, Evan Harvey, global head of sustainability at Nasdaq, said in an interview.

"It's also trying to set a global baseline for companies coming to market, especially for investors," Mr. Harvey said. He describes the guide as "much more of a global partnership, as we try to figure out where is the commonsense middle ground, and things that companies can reasonably provide. We have a bit of third-party authority to drive that," he said.

The timing was right for several reasons, he said. New reporting frameworks, including the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures and the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals, are growing in acceptance.

The World Federation of Exchanges, of which Nasdaq is a member, is also providing guidance and best practices, and there is interest in global standardization.

Nasdaq also recently concluded a year-long ESG reporting pilot program, where nearly 40 companies provided practical input on the guide's value for them.

Keeping the guide to a manageable 30 metrics helps tell the story between companies and investors and can also appeal to future employees, he noted. "We want them to expand their definition of stakeholders," Mr. Harvey said. "We want companies to understand that the business reasons for tracking this are valid and reasonable."