The topic of sustainability has received a new boost, also thanks to Greta Thunberg. Society demands sustainable management from companies and expects transparent information. The importance of sustainable management is also reflected in investment decisions: the classic financial indicators are no longer the only reason for an investment. Instead, non-financial indicators are expected to provide additional information about the long-term value of a company.
In 2014, the EU member states have adopted a directive to expand the reporting of large, capital market-oriented companies, credit institutions, financial services institutions and insurance companies. This NFI (non-financial information) directive has been mandatory in Austria since 2017 for capital market-oriented companies to implement as part of the Sustainability and Diversity Improvement Act (NaDiVeG). In concrete terms, this means that capital market-oriented companies must publish a non-financial statement or a separate non-financial report in addition to the management report.
The NFI Directive aims to achieve a uniform standard and statutory minimum requirements in sustainability reporting in the EU. In the course of this project, an assessment was made of the extent to which the NFI Directive has been implemented within three years. For this project, the annual and sustainability reports of ATX Prime, DAX30 and SMI companies for the years 2017-2019 were used. SMI companies in Switzerland were analysed to demonstrate which standards in non-financial reporting exist outside the member states of the EU.
The reports have been evaluated by the project members, and the following selected core statements derived from them:
For Austria, the analysis showed that already in 2017, almost half of the ATX Prime companies prepared their own non-financial report. In 2018 and 2019, the percentage of companies that prepared a separate non-financial report increased to approximately 60%.
In Germany, all companies report extensively on legal issues of environment, employees and social affairs, respect for human rights and anti-corruption.
For Switzerland, the survey revealed that the vast majority og companies publish a non-financial report despite a lack of legislation. More than half of the analysed companies published a separate non-financial report in 2019.
In summary, non-financial reporting has clearly improved over the years in all three countries. For all analysed companies, there is a clear improvement in content in 2019 compared to 2017.
It is evident that sustainability is reportable for companies. More attention was paid to the subject not only in quantitative terms, but also in qualitative terms.
Studies (in German language):