Transparency and Disclosure

Consistent and Integrated

Consistently position sustainable business priorities as critical drivers of corporate strategy and decision-making across all corporate communications, including in both voluntary and financial reporting. 


Companies communicate their comprehensive business strategy, reflecting the material and salient sustainability risks and opportunities identified through their strategic planning process for both the short- and long-term. Companies disclose this information consistently across all corporate communications and within voluntary and financial reporting. All disclosures demonstrate the integration of sustainability considerations into corporate governance, business systems, strategic planning and multi-stakeholder engagement strategies.

Getting Started

Public disclosure is an opportunity for companies to communicate to stakeholders a narrative that outlines how sustainability risks and opportunities are recognized, managed and addressed.  For companies just getting started, the value of public disclosure is found in the process. Evaluating existing data collection systems and creating new ones, partnering with decisions-makers from across the company to gain the necessary support and buy-in, engaging with external experts and stakeholders to ensure relevance and completeness—each of these steps in the process bring invaluable experience, insights and improved understanding of not only a company’s risks and opportunities, but the business itself. 

To meaningfully demonstrate to stakeholders how the company is managing risk, reducing impact and planning for the future—companies must first determine who their most critical audiences are, what information they want and where they are going to find it. Stakeholder mapping exercises allow companies to prioritize data collection and focus on delivering the right information in the right places.

A strong foundation of disclosure also allows companies to be better prepared. Although sustainability disclosure is not mandatory in all parts of the world, governments and regulatory bodies are increasingly discussing the possibility of setting public disclosure requirements for certain environmental, social and governance factors.  Having a strong disclosure process in place will be an advantage if regulatory requirements related to sustainability disclosure are to change.

A good place to start is by using comprehensive and credible disclosure resources as a guide. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards and the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) are two disclosure resources widely recognized as standards for comparable sustainability disclosure.  Investors value disclosures that are comparable for their decision-making processes and using a recognized and well-established sustainability disclosure standard helps to achieve this.

The GRI Standards covers a wide range of economic, environmental and social topics. Most companies that use the GRI also provide a GRI Content Index, which lets users of these reports, including investors, easily access information and compare performance across companies. The GRI’s comprehensive design supports the development of disclosures that meet the needs of a wide variety of investors and other stakeholders.

The SASB is an independent, private-sector standards setting organization focused on fostering high-quality disclosure of material sustainability information that meets investor needs. The SASB develops and maintains sustainability accounting standards for 79 industries in 11 sectors that help public corporations disclose financially material information to investors in a cost-effective and decision-useful format. SASB’s approach is materiality focused, evidence-based and market informed.

Once a company has created a disclosure based on one of the standard frameworks, additional disclosures specific to stakeholders or issues can be used to strengthen and hone the sustainability narrative.  

This section of the Ceres Roadmap 2030 identifies a list of resources to help companies further integrate sustainability into transparency and disclosure.

Disclose What Matters - This report analyzes the sustainability disclosures of the world's largest companies and can help companies bridge the gap and provide executable, relevant information to investors. 

Better Alignment Project – A project by the Corporate Reporting Dialogue focused on driving better alignment in the corporate reporting landscape and to make it easier for companies to prepare effective and coherent disclosures that meet the information needs of capital markets and society.

UN Action Platform: Reporting on the SDGs - The platform provides resources to help companies understand and report on the SDGs.

Issue specific disclosure resources (can be found with the Disclosing Progress tab under each Critical Impact Action):

Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) - The TCFD recommendations are a set of voluntary, consistent, climate-related financial risk disclosures for use by companies in providing information to investors, lenders, insurers and other stakeholders.

CDP Guidance for Companies - The guidance provides resources to help companies complete the CDP Climate Change, Forests and Water Security Questionnaires.

The Accountability Framework - A set of common norms and guidance for establishing, implementing and monitoring ethical supply chain commitments in agriculture and forestry  These norms reflect the consensus of a diverse coalition of respected conservation and human rights NGOs from around the world.

CEO Water Mandate Corporate Disclosure Guidelines - This guide offers a common approach to water management disclosure and puts forward metrics that can begin to harmonize practice and also provides guidance for defining what to report. This guide helps to minimize reporting burdens, allowing companies to allocate more time and resources to actively managing water.

United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) Reporting Framework - The UNGP Reporting Framework provides comprehensive guidance for companies to report on human rights issues in line with their responsibility to respect human rights, along with a concise set of questions any company should strive to be able to answer in order to know and show that it is meeting its responsibility to respect human rights in practice.

Companies in Action

The Coca-Cola Company disclosed financial and reputational risks of water scarcity and climate change in its 10-K and integrated business and sustainability report. In 2018, The Coca-Cola Company integrated its sustainability and annual reports to clearly demonstrate the company’s vision for long-term value creation and risk management. The report provides a variety of comparable, externally verified data and demonstrates how the company is managing ESG risks and opportunities from the board room through to its bottling partnerships. For example, Coca-Cola has noted in its financial disclosures that water shortages driven by climate change pose a risk to its production chains and profitability. This disclosure can be found in the Coca-Cola's 2019 Business and Sustainability Report and 10K, where the company discloses its sustainable business priorities alongside and often intertwined with its financial performance, demonstrating how sustainable business priorities are drivers of corporate strategy and decision-making. 

Kellogg Company presents climate change as a core business issue and underscores risks and opportunities for investors. Investors and the broader stakeholder community are increasingly asking companies to integrate sustainability risks and opportunities into strategy and long-term planning and for companies to articulate these connections through different forums. Responding to this expectation, Kellogg’s 2019 annual report and 10-K explicitly state how the company is integrating risks related to climate change and food security into both its growth and sustainability strategies. Importantly, the company discloses how it is evaluating these risks in its short, medium and longer-term time horizons. The company calls out climate change as a core business issue for the company, one that threatens the viability of the ingredients used in its products given the strong connections between climate change and a resilient agricultural system. In addition to the discussion on risks, Kellogg leverages its annual report to reinforce the role of the board and senior leadership in overseeing sustainability efforts and share key sustainability initiatives and targets.

MGM Resorts International discloses the physical and reputational risks posed by climate change in both its 10-K and annual report. In addition to disclosing its efforts to address climate change in its Social Impact and Sustainability Report, MGM discloses the business risks associated with climate change in its mandatory financial filings. The company instituted this practice in 2010, when it began disclosing on climate risks in its 10-K, eventually carrying this practice over to its annual report beginning in 2018. In both filings, MGM outlines the physical risks extreme weather events caused by climate change could have on its properties and operations and ability to attract visitors. In terms of reputational risks, like many companies, MGM states that its business faces increased scrutiny related to ESG activities and that it risks damage to its reputation and brand value if it fails to act responsibly in a number of areas, including environmental stewardship and climate change.