Today the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) announced that the SASB eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) taxonomy is now open for a 60-day public comment period. SASB engaged PwC to support in the development of an XBRL taxonomy encompassing SASB’s 77 industry Standards. By integrating into the common language for business reporting, the SASB XBRL taxonomy can further enhance the quality and usefulness of SASB disclosures.
“SASB-aligned disclosures in the structured XBRL format will allow for easier collection and comprehensive analysis of non-financial data,” says Matthew Welch, SASB President and COO. “This development is especially important as key regions around the world move to encourage structured reporting of sustainability information, just as they have done with financial information.”
An objective of the SASB XBRL taxonomy is to simplify the disclosure process for companies and to improve the comparability of disclosure to investors. As XBRL is a well-established tool for financial reporting, listed companies producing annual financial reports in regions with XBRL mandates are likely familiar with XBRL. SASB’s taxonomy can plug into base taxonomies for financial accounting standards (like IFRS and US GAAP), which allows organizations to leverage pre-existing processes and structures and lowers the barriers to adopting a SASB XBRL taxonomy.
Similarly, many corporate reporting software providers and auditors already have the technology for collecting and reporting data in XBRL format and are interested in applying these same processes to sustainability information. When used in tandem, SASB Standards and XBRL could provide cascading benefits across the market ecosystem.
SASB announced its engagement with PwC in October 2020. In three months, PwC helped SASB develop the initial draft version of the taxonomy that encompasses SASB’s 77 industry Standards. The XBRL community also reviewed the draft taxonomy and provided feedback.
“XBRL is an important element in the information-reporting ecosystem, and its integration to sustainability information will help to enable more useful, data-driven decision-making by relevant stakeholders,” said Wes Bricker, PwC US Vice Chair and Assurance Leader, who also serves as the Chair of the XBRL International Board of Directors. “PwC is glad to support the development of the SASB XBRL taxonomy, which is designed to help advance the accessibility and comparability of sustainability data for investors.”
The draft taxonomy, preparer’s guide, and supplemental materials are now available on SASB’s website. The preparer’s guide will support companies and consultants by providing guidance on tagging non-financial information and disclosing it through regulatory and non-regulatory channels. SASB seeks public feedback on the draft taxonomy and preparer guide to ensure that these are useful both for data producers as well as data consumers. For more information about the taxonomy architecture and the goals of the comment period, please read this blog. The 60-day public comment period will remain open through April 22nd, 2021—to submit feedback, please visit: https://www.sasb.org/structured-reporting-xbrl/.