The research methodology was designed drawing from the leading reporting standards and frameworks and putting them in relation with the requirements introduced by the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive and related guidance. The research methodology is built on six elements:
Basis for the assessment criteria
List of standards, frameworks, guidance and resources considered in the development of the research methodology
European legislation and guidance:
Standards and reporting frameworks:
|Scope of the research||
The countries included in the scope of the analysis represent the diversity of economic regions in Europe.
The 1000 companies included in the scope of the research have been selected from 11 sectors to ensure the relevance and representativity in the countries and markets assessed.
Similarly, the scope includes some of the biggest companies by market capitalisation as well as other companies from the lower tier falling under the scope of the EU NFR Directive. The logic behind this decision is that even if the largest companies have a bigger effect on society and the planet, smaller companies must also fulfil their obligation to report on sustainability issues to their stakeholders.
All companies received their individual assessment and were invited to provide feedback. Their comments were taken into account if the information provided was correct and followed the methodology designed for the project’s research.
|Documentation: Which company resources have been analysed?||
The project analysed the information disclosed in the corporate annual or sustainability reports as well as any document or set of information clearly linked in these statements.
The rationale behind this decision follows the principles of the EU NFR Directive and accompanying guidance, in which it is stated that the information should be easily accessible (i.e. “Cross referencing and signposting should be smart and user-friendly, for instance, by applying a practical rule of maximum one “click” out of the report”)
The project has assessed the information and reports covering a substantial part of the year 2018. In the majority of EU countries, the corporate reporting period corresponds with the calendar year, but in some other countries the reporting year at a different date. In some countries, the 2018 reports may be published as late as the end of September 2019. Therefore, in order to ensure the comparability of information, the project did not take into account reports from companies who have already published information covering 2019.
A majority of sustainability-related disclosures require predominantly a qualitative assessment which is inherently subjective. Furthermore, despite the project’s rigorous review mechanism, the complexity of the research implies inevitable errors and oversights. The scale of the research ensures that such errors do not significantly affect the aggregated data, but we do not recommend the use of assessment of individual companies to inform the decision-making of any stakeholders other than the companies themselves. The research has not been designed for this purpose.
We would like to thank those companies who have kindly responded to our request for feedback and helped us to correct errors in our assessment of their reports.
Frank Bold and Sustentia take responsibility for any error or inaccuracy in the research and presentation of results. The organisations forming part of the Alliance for Corporate Transparency have engaged in the project on a pro-bono basis contributing to the design of the research methodology and overall strategy. The assessment criteria employed in this research do not intend to represent a definitive or final model of best practices or legislation. They were designed to provide a general overview of how companies in specific sectors reported on some of the most important environmental and social issues.
For any questions, complaints or suggestions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|2018||Jan-March||The Alliance is formed by leading civil society organisations working in corporate sustainability and transparency that bring in specific expertise on the different areas covered by the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive.|
|March - April||The research methodology is developed by project partners, identifying the most essential ESG issues as well as the reporting criteria to analyse the information disclosed by companies in different sectors.|
|April - June||The methodology is consulted on with external stakeholders and a trial run is carried out with partner companies.|
|June - December||An initial analysis of the reports of 105 companies from three sectors (ICT, Healthcare and Energy) is carried out. The project simultaneously develops an online database. A review mechanism is set in place. The results of this initial research are presented in Brussels and submitted to the EU Commission for their review of the framework on public reporting (Fitness Check)|
|2019||Feb - March||The project prepares for the scale up phase by consulting, reviewing and calibrating the research methodology, which is updated and simplified (further details provided below)|
|March - May||Project partners and key external stakeholders such as standard-setters, trade unions and investor/corporate representatives provide feedback on the methodology via consultation|
|May - December||Assessment of the information disclosed in the annual and sustainability reports of 1000 companies from 11 industrial sectors covering all EU regions|
|December - January||Development of the front-end database|
|December - February 2020||Analysis of results and drafting research report. Key findings are presented in Brussels.|