Study describes benefits of publicly reporting environmental impact of corporate operations

A new, Yale-led analysis suggests that the Coca-Cola Company and a number of other corporations are the real thing when it comes to publicly reporting the environmental impact of their operations — something the American health care industry would do well to replicate.

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst, Dr. Jodi Sherman, an associate professor of anesthesiology and epidemiology at Yale, Todd Cort, a lecturer at the Yale School of Management, and their colleagues said U.S. health care organizations — and the public — would greatly benefit from providing regular, comprehensive data on their sustainability efforts.

“The health care sector, which is responsible for 18% of the U.S. economy, should be leading the rest of industry in its environmental performance. Instead, health care organizations are lagging far behind,” said Sherman, whose research focuses on sustainability and supply chain issues in the U.S. healthcare industry.

“We’re in the midst of a climate change crisis, and the health care industry is contributing to the problem,” she added. “We need data, not anecdotes.”

These disclosures are commonly termed Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting, the authors said. Companies create these reports using frameworks such as Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) or the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) to collect, track, and organize sustainability information. Based on the Triple Bottom Line — People, Planet, Profit — these accounting concepts seek to quantitatively measure the environmental and social costs, in addition to the financial costs, of business operations.

Many large companies disclose data on their work to create equitable, safe, and healthy workplaces and communities. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core features of ESG reporting, for example.

To learn more, visit the Yale News website.