ESG in Silicon Valley: A Look at the ESG Disclosure Practices of the SV 150

By: David A. Bell , Julia Forbess , Ron C. Llewellyn

Throughout the last few years, investors, proxy advisors, governance professionals and a number of stakeholders have expressed a keen interest in how companies are managing their environmental, social and governance (ESG) associated risks and opportunities. Given the broad nature of ESG and the general dearth of reporting mandates, ESG disclosure practices can vary significantly.

This report examines how technology companies in particular are responding to the growing interest in this space and the demands for more ESG-related disclosure by looking at the ESG reporting practices of the technology and life science companies included in the Fenwick – Bloomberg Law Silicon Valley 150 List (SV 150), which can serve as a proxy for technology companies more generally.

Key Takeaways

Our analysis of the public disclosures of the SV 150 companies shows the following:

  • Approximately 90% of SV 150 companies provide some level of ESG disclosure, with the vast majority of such companies (83%) choosing to disclose throughout multiple channels (e.g., sustainability reports, websites and/or proxy statements).
  • The amount and quality of ESG disclosure varied by size of company, with the larger SV 150 companies generally providing more comprehensive disclosure, including quantitative metrics.
  • ESG disclosures addressed a variety of topics, including carbon emissions and related reduction efforts, human capital management programs and initiatives, board and employee diversity, data protection and privacy. A significant majority provided disclosures related to human capital management, while smaller majorities included community impact and carbon emissions.
  • Approximately half of the SV 150 companies reported using a third-party standard or framework to guide their disclosure.
  • Only 17% of SV 150 companies provided independent assurance for their quantitative ESG metrics, such as GHG emissions.
  • The vast majority of SV 150 companies delegated primary oversight of ESG to the nominating and corporate governance committee or its equivalent.

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