Information about environmental, social and governance metrics are no longer a "nice to have" issue in corporate management, they are an indispensable input for leaders to consider across every business decision being made.

Typically, gathering this data has been the purview of tireless corporate sustainability or CSR teams, who have been responsible for measuring and analyzing ESG metrics, and building initiatives to minimize externalities and to create positive impacts for company stakeholders — particularly when it comes to the environment.

It’s increasingly clear, however, that responsibility for ESG practices — and the management of related data — must become embedded across every level of the organization. That doesn’t mean that the CSR team goes away, far from it. It means that this team’s remit is aligned to core business operations. There is growing evidence that ESG policies and initiatives positively affect corporate financial performance and long-term business strategy — regardless of whether a company is public or private.

Organizations that have embedded sustainability principles into their strategy ahead of potential industry regulations benefit from better financing, reputation and talent retention. This is reflected in market performance with investors seeing gains with these companies. According to an analysis by CEM Benchmarking, asset owner signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment demonstrated higher returns and lower costs than non-PRI signatories over five years.

That analysis underscores the importance of establishing companywide ESG key performance indicators — not just to satisfy investor interest in more detailed reporting but to help organizations strive toward better performance and shift towards sustainable operations. The right mix of insights and metrics can accelerate every employee to take personal responsibility in this shift.

Read the full article about environmental reporting by Matthew Sekol, Lavanya Rajaramkumar, and Irene Alarcó at GreenBiz.