The following blog about sustainability analytics and accountability was written by Patrick Hickey from Moye White LLP. Moye White is a full-service law firm offering strategic representation in complex commercial transactions and disputes. Their clients include startups and Fortune 100 enterprises, tax-exempt organizations and associations. They are also a certified B Corp! We are proud to partner with mission-driven organizations such as Moye White that are blazing a greener trail through their industry.
It’s well known that companies around the country place great emphasis on sustainability. Investors feel the same way and whether a company can demonstrate the impact of their sustainability initiatives is critical to investors. Thus, companies must provide accurate, reliable and understandable information regarding their sustainability programs.
That is where Moye White comes in. For years, Moye White and its clients have been at the forefront of various sustainability standards and data issues. Several of those issues are addressed below.
First, analyzing sustainability programs requires standard sustainability metrics, so that companies and investors can compare sustainability programs. These metrics allow companies and investors to evaluate the financial impacts of sustainability programs. Moye White supported the creation of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). The SASB creates standards that guide the disclosure of financially material sustainability information by companies to their investors. The standards are available for 77 industries, and the standards identify the subset of environmental, social and governance issues most relevant to financial performance in each industry. They allow investors to see the financial impact of sustainability in real numbers and not just through vague claims or platitudes.
Second, accurately and efficiently compiling sustainability data is critical. This is because sustainability data is not helpful unless it is accurate and understandable to company leadership and potential investors. Moye White assists its clients by drafting policies and procedures related to sustainability data to ensure the data is usable by all stakeholders.
Third, obtaining and using sustainability data requires drafting and negotiating data use agreements. A data use agreement is a contract used for the transfer of data developed by nonprofit, government or private industry, where the data is nonpublic or is otherwise subject to some restrictions on its use.
- Establish the permitted uses and disclosures of data;
- Identify who may use or receive the data;
- Establish safeguards to protect against unauthorized use of the data; and
- Require the recipient of the data to use reasonable measures to prevent the unauthorized use or disclosure of the data.
The purpose of data use agreements is to establish the rules for using and sharing sustainability data and ensure adequate projections related to the sustainability data. Data use agreements play a critical role because certain sustainability data is created through proprietary algorithms and formulas. Additionally, clients’ sustainability data may contain proprietary information that they do not want publicly available. Further, sustainability data may contain personal information that requires protection. Moye White drafts and negotiates data use agreements to ensure that its clients may use sustainability data safely and efficiently.
As the above information demonstrates, accurately compiling, analyzing and sharing sustainability data is critical for companies and investors. This is particularly true as more and more investors make sustainability a central concern when making investment decisions. Moye White has always been, and will continue to be, at the forefront of these issues.
Moye White partner Patrick Hickey is a commercial litigator representing clients in a variety of industries, including advanced energy, real estate, employment, construction and private equity. He can be reached at email@example.com or (303) 292-7907.