Ernst & Young: Triple Bottom Line Reporting and What CEOs Should Ask About It

Ernst & Young’s upcoming Webcast on Triple Bottom Line Reporting: Creating business value while mitigation risk reflects the growing trend of traditional financial reporting and sustainability issues intersecting.  I had the opportunity to speak with Steve Starbuck, the Leader of Ernst & Youngs’s Climate Change and Sustainability Services Practice.  The firm is in an interesting position to integrate sustainability into its core services:  assurance, advisory, tax and transaction advisory services.  In addition, it has created a specialty service focused on the triple bottom line, including a focus on helping clients with pre-reporting readiness, such as data gathering, identifying metrics and advising on ratings and criteria.

We spoke about the business case for sustainability reporting and the upcoming Webcast. Starbuck explained, “The Webcast is going to be focused on understanding the business value and risks of sustainability reporting and will talk about the different channels companies are using today to report their sustainability performance.  And we are also going to focus on our upcoming white paper–Seven Things CEOs and Boards Should Ask About Triple Bottom Line Reporting.”

Why Report?

According to Starbuck, one argument for reporting is that CSR reports are the basis for rating agencies, such as Bloomberg and Fidelity Investments, who are making sustainability performance information available to both institutional and individual investors.  He also mentioned a recent white paper, Action Amid Uncertainty, which surveyed 300 global executives;  40% said that investment analysts are looking at climate change performance metrics in making investment decisions.

Starbuck explained, “Whether you think it is a good thing to do or not, there is a wave of thinking that if you are not being transparent with this information and putting it out, there are different coalitions of investor groups and rating indices that could view you as not focusing on this type of performance.  Or if you are not transparent, maybe you have something to hide.  This is something the C-suite needs to be thinking about.”

Finally, he pointed out that setting up sustainability metrics and measuring performance can improve internal operations as well and that more and more employees expect transparent reporting.

Seven Things Every CEO Should Ask About Bottom Line Reporting

The Webcast will highlight the findings of a recent white paper on why sustainability reporting should be on every CEO’s radar screen and which questions they should be asking.  It will also include participation from Mike Wallace, Director, Sustainability Reporting Framework at the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).  He will report on trends he is seeing and the business case for why to use GRI as a framework for reporting.

As a part of GRI’s regional expansion strategy, it has entered into an agreement to establish a GRI Focal Point in the United States. The Focal Point is being supported by founding sponsors Deloitte LLP, Ernst & Young LLP, KPMG LLP and PwC U.S. and is hosted by The Conference Board.  GRI’s ‘Focal Point USA’ aims to boost the number of US companies reporting on sustainability in a consistent manner, to improve the quality of those reports and to increase US organizations’ input into developing new guidelines for sustainability reporting.

[ed. note: to learn more about GRI consider this certification in sustainability reporting only 3 weeks away!]


Here are the details on the Webcast:

Date: Thursday, 28 October 2010
Time: 1:00 p.m.- 2:00 p.m. New York; 10:00 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. Los Angeles
Registration: To register for this free event, click here.

According to the website, the event will discuss:

  • The due diligence that is being performed on your company’s bottom line performance
  • How this performance data is being used by stakeholders, including financial analysts and investors, to rank your company against your competitors
  • How tracking this performance can identify untapped value opportunities across your organization


Deborah Fleischer is President of Green Impact, a strategic environmental consulting practice that helps companies just beginning to report create authentic communication strategies that educate, engage and inspire both employees and external stakeholders.  Check out our new green team tool, Corp Green.

Deborah Fleischer is founder and president of Green Impact, a strategic sustainability consulting practice that helps companies walk the green talk. She helps companies design and launch new green strategies and programs, as well as communicate about successes. She is a GRI-certified sustainability reporter and LEED AP with a Master in Environmental Studies from Yale University and over 20-years of direct experience working on sustainability-related challenges in both the public and private sectors. She brings deep expertise in sustainability strategy, stakeholder engagement, program development and written communications. Deborah has helped to design and implement numerous successful cross-sector partnerships and new green initiatives, including the California Environmental Dialogue, Curb Your Carbon and the Institute at the Golden Gate. She has helped create lasting alliances among such organizations as Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy with companies such as Disney, Arco, Bank of America and Passport Resorts. You can follow her occasional tweet @GreenImpact or contact her directly at