The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board Foundation has appointed Perella Weinberg Partners partner and CEO Robert K. Steel as its new chair, succeeding former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the founder and chief executive of Bloomberg LP. Steel previously worked under Bloomberg as deputy mayor.

Bloomberg will become chair emeritus of SASB. Former Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Schapiro, who joined SASB in 2014, will continue as vice chair to provide continuity in the board’s leadership.

The move comes just days after SASB announced that its founder and former CEO, Dr. Jean Rogers, was stepping down from the post of chair of the SASB Standards Board (see SASB founder Jean Rogers steps down). In her case, vice chair Jeffrey Hales, a professor of accounting at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is becoming chair of the SASB Standards Board. The organization reorganized its governance structure last year, setting up a separate SASB Standards Board along with a SASB Foundation to oversee it (see SASB reconfigures board structure).

SASB Foundation chair Robert Steel, CEO of Perella Weinberg Partners, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview
SASB Foundation chair Robert Steel, CEO of Perella Weinberg Partners, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg

While SASB lacks the official standard-setting role for the accounting profession that the Financial Accounting Standards Board enjoys, the nonprofit organization has managed to develop a set of provisional sustainability accounting standards for 79 industries across 11 sectors, while managing to attract the support of influential leaders such as Bloomberg and Schapiro, since the organization was founded in 2011. Other members of the board include former FASB chairman Robert Herz and former SEC chair Elysse Walter.

The SASB Foundation’s new chairman has worked closely with Bloomberg during his predecessor’s three terms as New York City mayor. Before becoming partner and CEO at Perella Weinberg Partners, Steel was deputy mayor for economic development in the Bloomberg administration. Steel also served as under-secretary for domestic finance at the U.S. Treasury Department from 2006 to 2008, and as president and CEO of Wachovia and as co-head of the U.S. equities division and vice chair of Goldman Sachs, where he worked for 30 years. Steel has been co-vice chair of the SASB Foundation Board since January pof last year.

“SASB has an outsized opportunity to make a fundamental difference in establishing critical market infrastructure,” Steel said in a statement. “I’m proud to have the opportunity to continue Mike's leadership and help SASB work toward achieving its goals."

Bloomberg, a billionaire well known for his philanthropy, is providing a $2.4 million grant to SASB to help the organization implement the many standards it has been developing.

Bloomberg praised his successor. “Bob possesses the depth and breadth of experience required to lead the board and SASB through this next important phase of SASB's growth,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Bob's strategic and operational wisdom will help SASB transition and grow as they move forward from developing standards to market implementation.”

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