Learn how third-party assurance can help you build transparency
Annual ESG reporting season is coming up, and you seem to have all of your affairs in order. You know what the reporting requirements are for each benchmark, you understand the time and effort it will take for your team to complete those assessments, and—ideally— you have your data collection automated and centralized in Measurabl so that it’s ready to be formatted for whichever framework you choose.
But how do you know your data is investment grade? This year, consumers and investors are looking at companies with heightened scrutiny—from a company’s environmental impact to its diversity, equity, and inclusion measures. As ESG becomes a more pressing concern, the need for accurate, verifiable data to support your company’s ESG narrative is more important than ever.
That’s why many firms are choosing to have their ESG disclosures verified or assured. (See our previous blog for a deeper drive into these two processes). Third-party reviews check the veracity of both financial and non-financial information so investors and stakeholders can trust that a company’s disclosures are accurate. This additional step can also identify issues in your reporting methodology and underlying data, which can help you course correct and improve your relationship with stakeholders.
To give real estate companies a closer look at the assurance process and why now is the best time to start, we spoke with Brian Noveck, CFO and Managing Director at ISOS Group, a corporate responsibility and sustainability firm.
Can you tell us about why stakeholders are asking for third-party assurance, and what you provide for customers looking to assure their ESG data?
Many investors as well as ESG benchmarks like GRESB recommend third-party verification to ensure the data being reported is accurate and complete. Otherwise, companies run the risk of failing to uncover errors or issues that arose while preparing the information. Often these data discrepancies are unintentional, but if they are discovered too late, companies may be accused of misrepresenting or overstating their ESG performance.
The data verification process is quite simple, especially if customers already have their data automatically captured and centralized in Measurabl. Once all of the ESG data from the previous 12 months is ready for us for review, we work to certify the data is accurate, and ultimately provide a final assurance statement to be included as evidence in GRESB and other benchmarks. We also provide observations and recommendations for how to improve data quality and collection practices moving forward.
When is the ideal time for real estate companies to sign up for annual data verification and how can companies best prepare?
With so many customers preparing to report to GRESB at the end of June, February or March is the best time to get the process started. The entire process can take three to four months depending on how long it takes clients to gather the information for review.
Having Measurabl to keep ESG data up to date is extremely valuable. We also recommend that companies conduct quarterly internal audits to better understand their ESG performance throughout the year. Measurabl does a great job of capturing performance on an ongoing basis, but you still need someone who understands the context of the organization to identify certain trends.
Why is it important right now for customers to have their data verified?
Many organizations are setting or already have objectives for 2030. In order to meet those goals and align with voluntary measures like the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Science-Based Targets, you want to make sure that you have a sound baseline against which to measure performance.
Having an expert opinion also allows real estate firms to unlock opportunities to improve internal reporting practices and ensure that their information is investor ready. Third-party data verification can help companies increase their GRESB scores, and also improve the quality and integrity of their corporate sustainability reports (CSRs).
Looking ahead, as real estate and other industries become more regulated, it will become even more important for companies to have a solid grasp of how to collect ESG data properly and feel confident in the information they disclose.
Ready to get started? We can lift the weight of data assurance off your shoulders. Contact us for more information on assuring your data with Measurabl and ISOS Group.