The Director of Research reports to the chair of the SASB board and is a key member of SASB’s leadership team, with responsibility for oversight of research, analytics, and consultation pertaining to financially material ESG risks and opportunities. This work underpins SASB’s standards-setting activities in 79 industries, and the outcomes are directly relevant to the adoption of the standards by issuers and investors. The Director of Research is responsible for identifying emerging issues, testing materiality, and strengthening the quality of evidence for topics that are included in SASB’s disclosure standards. The Director of Research oversees a team of 11 analysts conducting research on environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks exposure identification, measurement, analysis, and consultation. The SASB framework encompasses 40 ESG topics and 79 industries and is designed to work under the definition of materiality as established by Regulation S-K and SEC guidance. For this reason, assessment of the financial materiality of ESG issues is paramount. The Director of Research makes recommendations to the SASB board regarding topics and metrics for updating, including, or removing from the standards based on materiality. Recommendations must be based on a credible thesis for change, including strengthening the financial materiality of the standards, improving cost-effectiveness for issuers, or improving decision-usefulness for investors.
The Standards-Setting team plays a key role in supporting the SASB board by providing research on industries, issues, cross-cutting themes, known trends, or changes in regulation that may affect the materiality of certain topics in certain industries. This research supports the SASB board’s technical agenda and influences the content of the disclosure standards, advancing SASB’s core mission. The analysts that work in the department are focused on research, consultation, and analytics to test the materiality of the issues. For SASB’s view of materiality as applied to the standards-setting process please see our Materiality Bulletin. The Director of Research is responsible for the quality and consistency of the research provided to the SASB board in support of development of the standards, and the logic and evidence underpinning any proposals for changes to the standards. The Standards-Setting team supports the SASB board in carrying out its standards-setting activities according to the Rules of Procedure & Conceptual Framework.
Reports to: Chair of the SASB Board
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
Research Process • Develop and maintain a strong ESG evaluation framework to identify emerging ESG risks and maintain the consistency and quality of the standards across the entire spectrum of equities as an asset class. Develop an efficient and effective process for testing the materiality of the topics in the SASB standards and ensuring consistency in logic and approach for similar issues across 79 industries Assist in identifying current political, social, and other risks to the global economy and capital markets; make related recommendations regarding updates to the standards • Research, develop, and continuously refine industry-leading methodologies and best practices in ESG risk assessment • Model and monitor cross asset-class ESG risk exposure (cross cutting issues) • Evaluate the nature of ESG risks based on the volatility and breadth of exposure (company specific, industry, or systemic) • Partner with external research organizations and universities for access to research, data, and analytics than can support the team’s work
Working with the SASB Board • Develop an efficient, repeatable process for identifying and evaluating risks and producing research reports for consideration by the SASB board. • Investigate, report, and make recommendations on specific issues/topics raised by the SASB board
External Communications • Develop an efficient and effective process for briefing companies and investors regarding proposed changes to the standards • Develop a research brief for regular external communication of emerging issues and industry trends • Understand and oversee communication of each industry’s unique ESG risk profile and tolerance • Adhere to the Conceptual Framework and Rules of Procedure in carrying out the research and preparing documents that are part of the SASB board review and public comment process.
Supervisory Responsibilities The Director of Research will have oversight responsibilities for the technical staff that supports standards setting, including sector analysts, technical directors, and others that may assist from time to time, including consultants, secondments, and volunteers. The current profile is 12 full-time staff.
• Applying expert knowledge of global macro/micro markets, corporate financial conditions, and government/regulator policy considerations to the analysis of changes to the standards • Accessing information from a variety of sources; and displays good judgment in identifying key data and qualitative and quantitative information for analysis • Interpreting the outcome of the analysis in relation to the material topics represented in the standards • Clearly and accurately conveying key findings, providing necessary supporting facts and analysis, and making appropriate recommendations
ORGANIZATION & PLANNING • Finding efficiencies in the department’s activities and where appropriate, identifying the relevant data sources and technology to streamline team efforts • Adjusting to changing priorities appropriately by displaying flexibility and willingness to reorganize department activities • Operating within a matrix structure, assigning tasks to support infrastructure management and standards-setting processes to sector analysts (public comment management, analytics QA, etc.)
• Managing long-term business relationships; building trust and maintaining collaborative relationships to facilitate feedback on the standards and identify emerging issues; and leveraging analytical work and research sources from outside entities to SASB’s benefit • Influencing, persuading, and motivating others; and establishing personal power base built on mutual trust, expertise, and honesty • Communicating effectively and persuasively across the organization • Actively demonstrates SASB’s core values: intellectual curiosity, focus, and collaboration
TECHNICAL SKILLS, EXPERIENCE, & EDUCATION
• Comfort with the leading techniques and software for quantitative analysis • Familiarity with the portfolio/risk platforms (MSCI Barra, Aladdin, others) • 7-plus years’ relevant work experience in research and analysis of ESG matters for investment decisions • BA required, relevant advanced degree expected • CFA a plus
The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit. SASB’s mission is to develop and disseminate sustainability accounting standards that help public corporations disclose material, decision-useful information to investors. That mission is accomplished through a rigorous process that includes evidence-based research and broad, balanced stakeholder participation.