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The Role of Auditors in Company Prepared ESG Information: Present and Future

Introduction

Investors and other stakeholders are calling on companies to disclose more about their sustainability and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategies. This call for transparency is not new, but there is a heightened focus on this reporting in response to investors’ growing interests in and incorporation of sustainability considerations into their investment strategies.

In December 2019, the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) released The Role of Auditors in Company-Prepared Information: Present and Future, which provides a foundational understanding of the current role of auditors in various types of company-prepared and publicly disclosed information, and addresses how auditors are positioned to help fill existing gaps in enhancing the reliability of decision-useful information. This publication builds on the concepts outlined in The Role of Auditors in Company-Prepared Information: Present and Future. We will provide an overview of what ESG reporting is, how investors are using the information, and how public company auditors are well positioned to enhance the reliability of ESG information given their public interest role.

We also provide key questions that board members can use to discuss ESG reporting with management and public company auditors, as well as questions investors may want to consider as they use ESG information to make capital allocation decisions.

The Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) is an autonomous public policy organization dedicated to enhancing investor confidence and public trust in the global capital markets. The CAQ fosters high-quality performance by public company auditors; convenes and collaborates with other stakeholders to advance the discussion of critical issues that require action and intervention; and advocates policies and standards that promote public company auditors’ objectivity, effectiveness, and responsiveness to dynamic market conditions. Based in Washington, DC, the CAQ is affiliated with the American Institute of CPAs.

About the Center for Audit Quality

Please note that this publication is intended as general information and should not be relied on as being definitive or all-inclusive. As with all other CAQ resources, this publication is not authoritative, and readers are urged to refer to relevant rules and standards. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The CAQ makes no representations, warranties, or guarantees about, and assumes no responsibility for, the content or application of the material contained herein. The CAQ expressly disclaims all liability for any damages arising out of the use of, reference to, or reliance on this material. This publication does not represent an official position of the CAQ, its board, or its members.