SASB - What is Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Standards

August 22, 2023
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What is Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Standards?

The SASB is a non-profit organisation that issues the SASB Standards, one of the leading standards for ESG reporting.

Some other commonly used ESG standards are the ISO 26000, GRI, and CDP. 

ESG reporting standards provide specific and detailed information for disclosing sustainability information.

Standards are key for sustainability reporting because they provide metrics and regularity to the field, thus creating a common blueprint for making frameworks actionable.

Companies will typically announce the standard that they are using for their reports, but there is currently no universal monitoring, reporting and verification system for sustainability and ESG reporting that can help examine with certainty if the standards have been applied well or the communicated disclosures are valid and true.


History of the SASB and SASB Standards

The SASB was formed in 2011 with the intent to help businesses and investors develop standards and a common language about the financial impacts of sustainability. 

The timeline below shows some of the most notable developments in the SASB’s history.

  • 2012: First public launch of standards-setting activities 
  • 2013: SASB releases their first conceptual framework and receives accreditation by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 
  • 2017: SASB establishes a two-tier governance structure (the SASB Foundation and the SASB), aligning its structure more closely with that of traditional financial standard-setting organisations, such as the IASB and FASB  
The SASB implemented this change to establish a more formal separation between oversight, administration, and finances—overseen by the SASB Foundation—and technical standard-setting work, which is conducted by the Standards Board.
  • In November of 2020, the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and the SASB announced their intention to merge into the Value Reporting Foundation. This merger was a response to the call for simplification and consolidation of ESG reporting standards. Despite the merger, the SASB Standards will still continue in their current form.
  • November 2021: The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation announced:
  1. Creation of a new International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB)
  2. Consolidation of the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB—A CDP initiative) and the VRF by June 2022
  3. Publication of climate and general disclosure requirements
These requirements are being developed by the Technical Readiness Working Group (TRWG), with contributions from CDSB, IASB, TCFD, VRF, and World Economic Forum.


The SASB Standards are recognised for financial disclosures, as the VRF is set up in a structure similar to that of other financial standard-setting bodies, and the Standards focus on providing detailed data for financially material sustainability factors.

This approach has been recognised by independent firms, such as BlackRock, and the State Street Global Advisors (SSGA). Notably, SSGA utilises the SASB materiality framework to determine scores for their R-Factor™ system, which generates unique ESG scores for public companies.

The Bloomberg SASB ESG Index Family also builds upon SASB Standards and SSGA's scoring system to create ESG policy benchmarks. 

The SASB Standards are widely recognised and their use may contribute to higher sustainability ratings with independent rating organisations such as Ecovadis or the CDP’s A List.

Limits of the SASB Standards 

The SASB’s biggest limitation is its focus on financial materiality and its exclusion of the impact an organisation and its operations have on its stakeholders.

At the same time, the SASB recommends companies utilise other sets of standards, such as the GRI Standards, that are complementary to the SASB Standards and help understand and communicate a more holistic view of a company’s sustainability prospects.

SASB Standards today

As of 2021, more than 600 companies among S&P Global 1200 have disclosed SASB metrics in public company communications, and that number will likely continue to grow in the future.

The SASB Standards are most popular in the US, with 65% of the S&P 500, 58% of S&P LATAM 40 companies, and 48% of the S&P Euro 350 using the Standards. 

Learn more about SASB...

SASB - What is Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Standards

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