This article is for:
- Customers with ESG Path
If interested in ESG Path, contact your Customer Support Manager (CSM), or request a demo
Ideal for those new to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting, ESG Path helps kickstart your efforts with the templates and files needed to disclose ESG topics recommended for any company and specific to your industries:
- ESG project work plan spreadsheet, to establish your project timeline and identify your collaborators and goals for ESG reporting
- Peer & customer analysis spreadsheet, to compile competitive research of your peers' ESG reporting
- Governance, strategy & risk management spreadsheet, to document how your company supports ESG performance with its business processes and policies
- Topic finder spreadsheet, to identify which ESG topics to disclose and assign owners for data collection
- An optional Topic prioritization spreadsheet, to help prioritize topics based on an assessment of stakeholder interest and financial statement impact
- ESG Program, set up with topics and metrics material to your company's industries
- ESG data hub spreadsheet, the factbook — or source of truth — for your reporting outputs
- Sample reports and presentations, for inspiration of how to disclose your ESG performance
Use these files to help guide your conversations and decisions to create meaningful ESG reporting.
Step 1. Plan ahead
ESG reporting is a team sport! Before you dive in, figure out your players—the workspace members to collaborate on ESG reporting—and their goals with the ESG project work plan spreadsheet:
- The Checklist sheet breaks down the steps required to develop an ESG report. Assign each step to workspace members, and add any custom steps to meet the needs of your company. As members complete steps, update the Status column to track your overall progress.
- On the Project timeline sheet, establish the timeline for the ESG project, culminating with the target date to issue the report. Ensure adequate time to collect data and review draft reports.
- On the Working group sheet, list the workspace members to assist with the ESG report, including their title and the ESG topic they're responsible for.
- On the Goals & vision sheet, list the objectives and aspirations of the ESG project, to help determine the effectiveness and success of your ESG reporting.
- On the Other stakeholders sheet, list other people who may use your ESG report—including external stakeholders like customers, investors, rating agencies, and financial institutions. For each stakeholder, track their title, company, and relevance to your ESG reporting.
Step 2. Research & strategize
Now that you know your players, devise your game plan by identifying the ESG topics to report on and frameworks to use.
To help identify ESG topics to report on and frameworks to use, research the ESG reports issued by each peer and customer from the Peer & customer analysis spreadsheet:
- List the Environmental, Social, and Governance topics they disclose in their ESG reports, such as those based on Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards.
- List the ESG frameworks and standards they use, such as SASB, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards, or Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
Tip: You can commonly find framework references in the index or footnotes of an ESG report.
- Record the ESG score or rating they receive from S&P Global®, Sustainalytics®, and CSRHub®, and note any observations or trends about how the ratings their ESG reporting receives.
- Note any ESG reports you find aspirational from a content or design perspective.
Tip: Keep in mind the purpose and audience of your ESG reporting as you research others' ESG reports. As ESG reporting continues to evolve, it's important to new reporting developments, as not every peer or customer may follow best practices or the latest trends.
From the Governance, strategy & risk management spreadsheet, evaluate and document your company's corporate governance, sustainability strategy, and risk management processes, and how they support your strategic objectives for ESG performance:
- To evaluate the level of accountability throughout the corporate governance process related to ESG information and performance, document the various roles and responsibilities from the Governance structure sheet.
- From the ESG strategy documentation sheet, document your company's overall strategy to create long-term value through the consideration of ESG performance. Assess how ESG-related risks and opportunities are considered in your overall decision-making, strategy, and financial planning processes.
- From the ESG risk management documentation sheet, evaluate how your company assesses ESG considerations as part of your enterprise risk management process.
Tip: To align with TCFD, complete the TCFD questionnaire to identify your company's specific climate-related risks and opportunities.
With ESG Path, your ESG Program comes set up with topics and metrics material to your company's industries. To refine the topics and metrics to disclose in your ESG reporting, identify topics to set up for data collection from the Topic finder spreadsheet.
Step 1. Identify applicable ESG topics
From the Topic finder spreadsheet, identify the ESG topics to consider for reporting:
- From the Industry selector sheet, select Y in the Disclose column for your primary and secondary industries. To help determine your industry, use SASB's Find Your Industry tool.
- From the Connections panel, refresh the connections to update the Topic finder sheet with your industries' applicable topics.
Tip: To include recommended topics — sourced from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework — that represent key ESG factors across all industries as a foundation for your ESG reporting, select Y for Universal.
- From the Topic finder sheet, review the topics returned based on your selected industries.
Tip: To learn more about a topic, such as how to calculate its accounting metric, search or browse ESG Explorer for its guidance from SASB.
Note: Industry-specific topics are sourced from SASB, while the Universal topics contain standards from multiple sources including SASB, GRI, and GHG Protocol.
Step 2. Determine the topics to disclose
From the Topic finder sheet, assess whether to disclose each topic:
- Select the topic's stakeholder interest and financial statement impact — as High, Medium, or Low — and enter your rationale for its impact levels.
Tip: To help determine the topics' impact levels, use the optional Topic prioritization spreadsheet for a detailed assessment of their stakeholder interest and financial statement impact.
- In the Disclosure strategy column, select whether to disclose the topic — even partially — in your ESG report.
Tip: To help determine whether to disclose a topic, consider its impact levels and your research in the Peer & customer analysis spreadsheet.
- For each topic you select Disclose or Partially disclose, assign an owner.
- For each topic you select Not disclose or N/A, enter a note about why.
- In the Roadmap for future reporting strategy column, enter any notes about reporting the topic in the future, such as for topics you don't currently have data for, or initiatives to expand its current disclosure.
To help determine the topics' impact levels, use the optional Topic prioritization spreadsheet to assess their stakeholder interest and financial statement impact.
Note: By default, the stakeholder interest and financial statement impact categories have equal weight — 25% — when calculating the Overall Topic Interest Impact. To weigh the categories differently, enter the new weights in the Alternate weightage row.
- From the Connections panel, refresh the incoming connection from the Topic prioritization query.
- From the Stakeholder interests sheet, select each topic's impact level — High, Medium, or Low — across categories of stakeholder interest.
Tip: Assigning an impact level requires judgment and may involve further collaboration across your organization. To ease this analysis, refer to the Industry Research Briefs from SASB.
Category Description Prompt to ask Legal, regulatory, & policy drivers Existing or emerging policies and regulations that could create ESG-related risks or opportunities for your organization To help determine their impact level, ask: "How likely is your organization to be subject to new or emerging regulations?" Industry norms & best practices Trends and best practices that address ESG-related issues or disclosures within your peer organizations
Tip: To review which topics are important to your peers, refer to the Peer & customer analysis spreadsheet.
To help determine their impact level, ask: "Which ESG issues do peers actively manage or commonly report on?" Social trends Trends that may be significant to investors, as they can:
- Create contingent liabilities
- Result in regulatory or legal challenges
- Impact your organization's reputation or license to operate, the demand for your products or services, your long-term growth, or the value of your assets
To help determine their impact level, ask: "Is your product or service offering likely to be influenced by consumers and their interaction with it? What social trends shift consumer demand?" Opportunities for innovation The potential for a competitive advantage due to innovation created by demand or that creates demand itself, such as:
- New products or services
- Emerging technologies
- Markets that arise from ESG considerations
To help determine the impact level, ask: "Are there emerging technologies or business practices that would enable your organization to improve performance on a topic by minimizing risks or capturing value? Does your organization generate new technologies, processes, products, or services that could reach new customers or markets?"
- From the Financial statement impact sheet, select each topic's impact level — High, Medium, or Low — on categories of Revenue, Costs, Assets & liabilities, and Cost of capital.
- From the Topic prioritization summary sheet, review the calculated impact levels for each topic.
Tip: To view the topic prioritization as a heat map, click Open Topic Prioritization Heat Map.
- To automatically update the Stakeholder interest and Financial statement impact columns of the Topic finder spreadsheet with these levels, refresh the Connections panel of the Topic prioritization spreadsheet.
Step 3. Collect data
To ease and track data collection, your ESG Program comes with topics and metrics based on:
- Industry-specific standards from Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)
- Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Universal Standards, applicable to any industry
- Recommendations from Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)
After you capture your research and strategy in the Topic finder spreadsheet, contact your Workiva Customer Success Manager (CSM) to update your ESG Program based on the metrics you choose to Disclose or Partially disclose.
You can then adjust an ESG Program's metric as necessary:
- In Metric details, provide context about the metric:
- In Description, enter an explanation of the information the metric discloses.
- In Related ESG content, the metric's corresponding content it aligns with appears. Connect the metric with additional ESG Explorer content as necessary.
- In Program tags, select any additional metadata your company tracks about the metric.
- In Reference attachments, upload any files about the metric, such as guidance downloaded from an ESG framework, or relevant artifacts from stakeholder interviews.
- If you choose to Disclose or Partially disclose a topic in the Topic finder spreadsheet, set up its Metric assignment:
- In Assignee, the topic's owner from the Topic finder spreadsheet appears. Select another assignee or set their due date as necessary.
- To have another workspace member verify the value that the assignee provides, select them as the Approver and set their due date.
- In Instructions, enter any additional direction to ease data collection.
- In Metric value, set up the metric's data collection:
- Select the type of value to collect and — for a Number or Currency — its unit of measurement.
- In Metric notes, enter any details about the value.
- In Supporting attachments, upload any known files that support the value, such as utility bills or existing calculations.
Tip: The assignee or approver can provide notes or supporting attachments about the metric as they complete their tasks in Task Hub.
After you set up all metrics for a topic, click Send tasks to automatically send notify the metrics' assignees and approvals of their tasks.
To ease data collection, the assignee and approver will complete their tasks in a streamlined Task Hub. You can track data collection status from a metric, its topic, or the ESG Program.
Step 4. Report!
As you draft your ESG report:
- In the ESG data hub spreadsheet, the Factbook section curates the values collected in the ESG Program metrics. Use this section as your source of truth as you create and design reports to disclose your ESG performance.
- To help save time, ESG Path provides a pre-populated Avikro sample sustainability report document, which starts with pre-linked disclosures and can serve as your initial audit trail. Edit this document's content to fit your company's unique ESG story.
Tip: ESG Path also provides a pre-populated sample ESG board update presentation, which you can use as an inspiration or starting point for additional ESG reporting outputs.
To ensure accurate disclosures from the ESG data hub spreadsheet:
- Use source links from the Factbook section to provide values for the destination documents, presentations, and spreadsheets of your ESG reporting outputs.
- From the Connections panel, refresh all incoming and outgoing connections to update the current values.
- To update linked destinations with the new values, click Publish.