Business Sustainability Standards


Identify the most widely used and best regarded sustainability standards for both investors and for operating firms. For each, provide a brief description of the standards and examples of companies that use them.

Early Findings


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standard
  • The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standard is the "most widely used sustainability reporting standard."
  • 74% of the 250 largest companies in the world use the GRI.
  • The GRI standards are "the first global standards for sustainability reporting. They feature a modular, interrelated structure, and represent the global best practice for reporting on a range of economic, environmental and social impacts."
  • The GRI standards cover economic, environmental and social impacts. All companies begin with the Foundation, General Disclosures and Management Approach standards, and then the rest of the standards are industry specific.
  • A full list of companies using the standards can be found here, which includes Yum! Brands, Inc, Xcel Energy, XPO Logistics, Inc., Workday, The World Bank, World Wide Technology LLC, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Wells Fargo & Company and more.
Sustainable Accounting Standards Board

Other Standards

  • While the GRI standards are by far the most popular, other popular standards include CDP and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI). The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) is a new standard that is gaining popularity.
  • Other standards mentioned were The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises), UN Global Compact (Communication on Progress), and International Organization for Standardization (ISO 26000 Guidance on social responsibility).

Research Summary

  • The initial research focused on identifying and describing standards for investors, as well as identifying commonly used sustainability standards for business. However, the initial research was unable to identify any standards specific to operating firms.

Research proposal:

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