AT&T’s ESG reporting team takes a two-fold approach to managing relationships with ESG data providers, by actively engaging with analysts and producing 20 topic-specific ESG reports.
Several issuers expressed concerns about the accuracy of third-party ESG data at last month’s ESG Integration Forum, but Ben Kruse, director of global CSR reporting and insights at AT&T, explained that his team creates short topic-specific reports based on questions asked by the likes of RobecoSAM, MSCI and Sustainalytics.
These one to two-page reports supplement the 30 to 40-page annual sustainability report and cover a range of topics, including climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, human rights, corporate governance and water management. This approach earned AT&T the best ESG reporting trophy at the Corporate Governance Awards 2019.
Speaking to IR Magazine and Corporate Secretary at the ESG Integration Forum, Kruse explained that the reports are ‘guided by our most important topics from the [Global Reporting Initiative] definition of materiality [and a] materiality assessment that we conduct every two to three years.
‘What we do with these documents is take an opportunity to discuss our managerial and programmatic approach… we really integrate these ESG ratings and rankings as part of the process as well. We begin with the end in mind and take all the questions asked by these various surveys – be it RobecoSAM, ISS, CDP or Sustainalytics – and we go out to 200-300 subject matter experts throughout the business and ask them to literally answer those questions for us.’
Kruse explained that these mini-reports are part of a proactive engagement strategy with ESG data providers. The second part of the strategy is to actively get to know the industry analysts covering AT&T at the data providers, so there can be a regular dialogue if information is missing, misreported or unclear.
‘If I can underscore anything it’s that you have to be actively engaged with these organizations,’ Kruse added.
Click here to view the full video interview, along with other highlights from the ESG Integration Forum.