Given the impending introduction of legislation requiring large Australian listed companies to make supply chain disclosures about modern slavery, the paper aims to reveal current voluntary practice. The purpose of this paper is to provide a benchmark for assessing the current engagement of large companies with modern slavery in Australia.
Institutional theory provides the foundation for assessing current voluntary practice in relation to modern slavery disclosures by large Australian listed companies. Content analysis is used to identify quantity and quality of modern slavery disclosures of the top 100 companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. The contents of annual and standalone reports available on websites, as well as other online disclosures, are examined using terms associated with modern slavery identified from the literature.
Evidence gathered about modern slavery disclosures by ASX 100 companies shows information in annual and standalone reports reveal far less than other disclosures on company websites. Overall, the volume and quality of disclosures are low and, where made, narrative. A wide range of themes on modern slavery are disclosed with bribery and corruption and human rights issues dominant. Although currently in line with institutional theory, as there appear to be mimetic processes encouraging disclosure, results support the idea that legislation is needed to encourage further engagement.
The paper provides a baseline of understanding about the volume and quality of modern slavery disclosures as a foundation for future research into the practices of Australian companies prior to the signalled introduction of legislation mandating reporting. It also identifies potential lines of research. The sample only examines large Australian listed companies which restricts generalisation from the results.
This is the first academic research paper to examine quantity and quality of modern slavery disclosures of large Australian companies. Results add support for the introduction of legislation by government.
Christ, K., Rao, K. and Burritt, R. (2019), "Accounting for modern slavery: an analysis of Australian listed company disclosures", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 836-865. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-11-2017-3242Download as .RIS
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