Simplifying ESG Data Management and Reporting: Notified and Nasdaq OneReport
By Sylvie Harton, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Strategy, Public Relations and Investor Relations Solutions at Notified
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) has become central to corporate strategy, as investors, employees, customers and communities want to know what companies are doing to make a positive impact on the world, like reducing carbon footprints, providing safe and healthy workplaces, and having diverse leadership teams and boards. Stakeholders are making it increasingly clear that they expect companies to take a proactive approach to ESG policies and messaging.
To help our customers simplify their ESG data management and reporting, Notified has expanded our strategic partnership with Nasdaq to offer Nasdaq OneReport, a web-based ESG software that helps companies navigate the alphabet soup of ESG ratings, frameworks, surveys, and questionnaires.
I recently sat down with Randall Hopkins, Vice President and Head of Nasdaq OneReport, to talk about the challenges and opportunities for companies with their ESG reporting, the Notified-Nasdaq partnership, and the strategic value of OneReport.
The following are highlights from our conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity. You can also watch the complete interview below.
What is Nasdaq OneReport? What problems does it solve, and what value does it deliver?
OneReport brings efficiency and simplicity to the ESG reporting process. It centralizes ESG data so everyone in a company can gather, track, manage, approve, and report on ESG data to different audiences, including ESG raters. Regardless of where you are in your ESG journey (brand new or veteran), whether you’re a public or private company, or the size of your company, OneReport provides an easy solution to centralize ESG data and collaborate across your organization – from the intern to the C-suite.
OneReport helps address the challenges that companies have with respect to ESG data management and data disclosure.
It helps create some order out of chaos, and there’s an awful lot of that in the ESG data space.
We start by organizing and de-duplicating all the questions, metrics, and frameworks—the things that are being asked of corporates in their ESG space. Having done that organizing, it’s about putting workflow tools in place for an enterprise so that they can get the subject matter experts working on their topics and then getting those data points assured and approved for distribution.
It’s also important to manage risk by making sure that the right hand knows what the left hand has done and ensuring that all of the communicators for the company are on exactly the same page as far as the distribution of this information.
Ultimately, it comes down to having the time to be more strategic around communication. Obviously, there are better outcomes from a financial perspective if it’s cost of capital. There are better outcomes with respect to the environment and other organizational postures around these things, and if we can reduce the friction in the system, that’s a big victory for corporates to be able to do this work well.
Many companies don’t have good guidance or a good process in place for ESG reporting. How does OneReport help solve that?
Most of our conversations reveal that companies are trying to solve this problem with standard office software and email. While it’s an emerging space, it’s still a space that has a big tax that’s imposing on our companies in the United States, Europe and Asia. One of the things we’ve recognized, having been doing this for a couple of decades now, is that there is an awful lot of nuance and complexity to ESG data management and reporting. Companies that lack proper software are simply amplifying that tax. We all, as communicators, know there are limited resources, time, energy and money dedicated to these things. But if we let this go and let this tax continue to expand, we will not be able to achieve a lot of the great things that we want to as businesses.
We acquired OneReport in 2020, but it had pre-existed Nasdaq by 15 years. The relationship that Nasdaq OneReport has with ESG raters and rankers informs how we can help companies understand the ecosystem and the environment where a lot of their stakeholders live and what’s important to them.
Our customer success team has a background in ESG, sustainability and communications to help our clients understand where the opportunities and the challenges might be for them.
The other thing that’s particularly unique for Nasdaq, of course, is our role related to the regulatory function. And if you think about ESG in the United States, where we forecast greater involvement from the SEC in terms of disclosure, that’s an important role we play at the intersection of companies, the regulatory agencies, investors and other stakeholders. We’re uniquely positioned to be able to deliver insights to companies to help them in their journeys.
What is synergistic in the Notified/Nasdaq OneReport partnership, and what are the benefits for customers?
OneReport is designed to create efficiencies around the process of ESG data collection and management. The number of people that get involved in this work and the number of stakeholders inside organizations for communications, in general, has grown over the years. What’s really exciting and transformative here is that our efficiency mandate within OneReport can really be amplified and extended with Notified because of your integrated communications platform.
Notified makes it easy for companies to take a consistent, transparent and approved message out to their stakeholders in a very efficient way. This is very important for us as corporate communicators, whether public or private, to know that we can not only be efficient in the operational elements of our communications program but also in the delivery of our communication as well.
Do you think this partnership can help the industry mature?
I really do. In a way, we’re democratizing ESG by lowering the ‘hurdle rate’ because we now have the ability to be able to do this at a more efficient rate and provide more transparency to our stakeholders, and it does speed along this process. It used to be the have and have nots. For instance, if you had large teams, you could do 137-page sustainability reports. Now, while that may not be the main goal, it can be part of the goal to be more transparent with our stakeholders, which, in turn, means we can amplify these communications across a much larger audience.
An exciting part of this partnership is that Notified can create a dedicated ESG webpage that houses ESG data and is integrated with Nasdaq OneReport via iFrames. Notified’s mission is to deliver simple-to-use software to enable Notified customers to report on their ESG efforts using a single platform-removing complexity and driving efficiency. Nasdaq OneReport is that solution, and we are excited to partner to deliver the right ESG technology to our customers.