Sustainability execs share strategies for new era of ESG disclosure

As we look forward to a greener economy in 2019, we asked members of the GreenBiz Executive Network, our member-based, peer-to-peer learning forum for sustainability professionals, to offer their perspective on the greater alignment of investors and companies to accelerate sustainable capital growth (the topic of our GreenFin Summit on Feb. 26 at the GreenBiz 19 conference).         

Here's what three members said when we asked: How is your company adapting its disclosure processes/practices on ESG issues to address the interests of institutional investors?

Bruno Sarda

Bruno Sarda, vice president of sustainability, NRG 

At NRG, sustainability is more than a single target or objective; it is foundational to our business and how we serve our customers. Sustainability is fully integrated into all parts of the organization. For this reason, we engage with our investor audience on ESG and sustainability in a holistic, integrated manner.

Last year, we organized investor meetings with NRG’s leadership — from investor relations, sustainability to our corporate secretary. This allowed us to share and discuss key ESG issues such as governance, including executive compensation and board composition, as well as sustainability alongside our overall company strategy and transformation plan.

This holistic approach encouraged our investors to bring ESG analysts, proxy and governance experts, and sometimes sector analysts to meetings, resulting in our ability to address and unify these topics and demonstrate their importance to the overall company strategy.

Jeanne Renné-Malone

Jeannie Renné-Malone, vice president of ESG, Prologis 

In 2016, we met our 20 percent by 2020 greenhouse (GHG) emission reduction target four years early, and as a testament to address the urgent action needed to curb climate change, Prologis committed to a science-based target (SBT) that was approved in October.

There is increasing interest in climate change disclosure from institutional investors, and there is an ongoing scientific consensus that the earth’s climate is warming. We see this as our responsibility and also an opportunity, given the connection between good ESG practices and good business that point the way forward to a more resilient future. 

We are developing a roadmap to meet our SBT, and in 2019 we will continue to identify new technologies and business practices that minimize our impacts and also create value for our stakeholders. 

Patrick Flynn

Patrick Flynn, vice president of sustainability, Salesforce

At Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, we believe the business of business is to improve the state of the world for all of our stakeholders, including our stockholders, customers, employees, community, environment and society. We are committed to creating a sustainable, low-carbon future, advancing equality and fostering employee success. 

We launched a project to ensure that we are aligned with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), and in 2018 included environmental, social and governance metrics in our annual 10-K and proxy that was filed with Securities and Exchange Commission. We believe that our stakeholders deserve investor-grade data about our financial and non-financial metrics alike. That's why we also we engaged Ernst and Young to perform a limited assurance review over our key sustainability metrics included in our stakeholder impact report.

Disclosure is one core focus of the ESG and reporting track at GreenBiz 19.

Trust is a core value for Salesforce, and we measure success by ensuring our ESG efforts are integrated into all decision-making processes and business operations in a transparent way. Through our enhanced disclosures in our 10-K, 10-Q and proxy, we also hope to provide a blueprint for other companies to follow.

The financial team looks at the projects and programs of the business through the lens of ESG. They review contracts cross-functionally with the legal team, accounting team, sustainability team, as well as others, to ensure not only the language and legal structures of contracts are accurate, but [that] all perspective opportunities [are] evaluated based on their financial merits within the context of our long-range plan while positioning the company strategically.

For the first time this fall, Salesforce was selected as an index component of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) — recognizing the company's corporate sustainability leadership within our industry. Also for the first time this year, Salesforce was awarded the 2018 Finance for the Future Award in the category of Communicating Integrated Thinking. This award recognizes finance organizations that play a unique role in ensuring sustainability initiatives are front and center in an organization's sustainable business model.