SASB lays off researchers to focus on adoption of codified sustainability standards (Updated)

Body is reorganizing for growth and other challenges

(Updates to delete reference to SFERS)

A reshuffle by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) will see its research team reduced, signalling a change of strategy towards global outreach and adoption of SASB’s codified standards, Responsible Investor has learnt.

A spokesperson for SASB told RI that the new management structure is aimed at “reorganizing SASB for growth, driving corporate adoption, and other new challenges in 2019”.

The spokesperson confirmed that four SASB roles have been “reorganized” and that three staff have been laid off. Asked about their names, SASB said it keeps individual employee details confidential.

RI understands that one of the three staff who have been made redundant is David Post, formerly Director of Research.

He joined in May 2017 at a critical time for the for development of SASB standards, ahead of the final phase which ended in November 2018 with the launch of a set of definitive codified standards at a London Stock Exchange open market ceremony.SASB’s tax filing for 2017 showed that Post was the third highest paid employee, after Jean Rogers (who founded the initiative in 2011 and who left in April 2018) and Matthew Welch, SASB President.

The SASB spokesperson said the new composition of the research team is still under consideration. “Our headcount has not reduced. We have already begun to recruit for the new roles”.

As Director of Research, Post oversaw a team of 11 analysts and was responsible for identifying emerging issues, testing materiality, and strengthening the quality of evidence for topics that are included in SASB standards.

Sources with knowledge of the situation, who preferred not be named, expressed concerns that the new approach prioritises commercialisation over rigour.

SASB is overseen by the SASB Foundation, where Michael Bloomberg is Chair Emeritus. The foundation includes senior finance figures like former SEC Chair Mary Schapiro and CalSTRS’ CEO Jack Ehnes.

In recent years, SASB has shown signs of its ambition to become a global player beyond the US market.