LONDON – Working with the Impact Investing Institute, on a pro bono basis, global law firm Reed Smith has published a research report on social reporting in the UK.

The report provides guidance on the current legislative framework and best market practice for companies to disclose their social sustainability metrics in the UK.

Clear reporting of an organisation’s social sustainability credentials is vital to ensuring that internal and external stakeholders can understand the impact - positive and negative - an organisation is having on the wider world.

However, the reporting landscape in relation to social sustainability factors is currently fragmented, and has not received the same attention as other areas through, for example, the development of taxonomies.

Instead, social sustainability reporting is governed by a patchwork of legal requirements and voluntary initiatives, without a single framework unifying the different regimes.

Reed Smith and the Impact Investing Institute have created this report to help companies seeking to enhance the disclosure of their social sustainability metrics in the UK.

Reed Smith partners Claude Brown and Andrzej Janiszewski led on this pro bono project with support from a core research team of associate Uden de Silva, and trainees Esme Carey and Anna Tranter.

Claude Brown, Reed Smith's ESG practice co-lead, said: “Sustainability remains a permanent fixture on the corporate agenda but companies still need guidance in navigating this uncertain legislative landscape and so we are proud to have worked with the Impact Investing Institute to create this report. We hope it will provide companies with greater clarity on their current social sustainability reporting obligations and the best disclosure practices in the UK.”

Joe Dharampal-Hornby, Public Affairs Manager, Impact Investing Institute, said: “As society faces two huge challenges – climate change and social injustice – businesses are increasingly committed to contributing towards a fair and inclusive transition to Net Zero – in other words a Just Transition. But sustainability reporting, particularly on social outcomes, remains patchy and inconsistent across industries and jurisdictions. Our joint report with Reed Smith sets out the UK landscape of regulation, market-led initiatives, and voluntary codes, which we believe can support both policy and industry progress on social metrics.”

Reed Smith has a significant ESG practice group with nearly 60 transactional, environmental, corporate, regulatory and disputes lawyers from across the firm’s 30 offices, supporting clients across a range of industries in the face of intensifying compliance and stakeholder obligations.

The interdisciplinary team advises clients on all aspects of environmental, social and governance issues. The firm is particularly focused on governance, which is seen as the linchpin for ensuring that clients’ ESG plans, compliance efforts and reporting systems are robust, transparent and ethical while satisfying stakeholders’ expectations for accountability.

The full report is available for download below.