SEC Looking Into New Climate, Workforce Diversity Disclosure Rules

By | June 25, 2021

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may require public companies to publish data on a whole range of new areas, including greenhouse gas emissions, workforce turnover and diversity, as its new chairman looks to enhance the SEC’s disclosure regime.

Gary Gensler, SEC chair, told a financial services industry audience during the annual London City Week he has also asked staff to consider potential requirements for companies that have made “forward-looking” climate commitments and have significant operations in foreign jurisdictions with required climate-related targets.

“I’ve asked staff to propose recommendations for the commission’s consideration on human capital disclosure. This builds on past agency work and could include a number of metrics, such as workforce turnover, skills and development training, compensation, benefits, workforce demographics including diversity, and health and safety,” Gensler said.

Gensler has already said the agency plans to introduce new climate-related and human capital rules as it steps up environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure and last week closed a public consultation on a potential new rule.

His comments on Wednesday provide the clearest preview of what a rule would mandate when it is proposed, likely in October, based on the SEC’s public agenda.

Investor groups have asked the agency for more corporate disclosures on climate change and human capital, while business interests have pushed back, Reuters has reported.

Gensler also said he had asked staff to explore structural changes to the U.S. Treasury cash and repo markets which have experienced a handful of liquidity crunches in recent years.

While the Federal Reserve has previously suggested introducing central clearing was an option to help grease the wheels of the Treasury market, Gensler said he had asked staff to “consider the potential benefits” of clearing — signaling a potential shakeup for the world’s largest market long term.

(Reporting by Katanga Johnson in Washington Additional reporting by Huw Jones in London Editing by David Goodman, Jonathan Oatis and Jane Merriman)

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