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Publication date: 25 March 2021

Nuha Ceesay, Moade Shubita and Fiona Robertson

Purpose: The purpose of this chapter is to establish the sustainability reporting practices of FTSE 100 companies using integrated reporting (IR), corporate social…

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this chapter is to establish the sustainability reporting practices of FTSE 100 companies using integrated reporting (IR), corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate governance (CG) as proxies. Our study has adopted a holistic approach by combining dimensions of each factor in one variable.

Design/Methodological Approach: The study data cover all FTSE 100 companies over five years, thereby generating 505 company-year observations for each variable of the study. Authors have collected the data from Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reports filed with Thomson Reuters and International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC).

Findings: Results indicate the practice of sustainability reporting in FTSE 100 companies both per variables and dimensions levels. It shows, for example, 89% of the companies reported on their charitable donations. The study also found that 79% of the FTSE 100 companies reported on their sustainability committees whilst 86% and 85% reported on their emission reduction and waste reduction policies, respectively. Results show that the CSR impact is higher than CG regarding IR adoption. The Logistic Model manages to explain a high percentage of IR adoption while controlling for other misspecification issues such as multicollinearity.

Practical Implication: The study highlights practice of substantiality reporting for public shareholding companies listed on FTSE 100 Index along with interaction among proxies. These will be of interest to companies not only in the FTSE 100 Index but also those outside. Companies can rely on these factors to strengthen their governance, social responsibility and reporting policies in consideration of all stakeholders and not just a few. We believe that we shed a quantitative explanation on IR adoption by CSR and CG factors, and we expect an impact on practices following results of our study.

Social Implication: Results have indicated that at least 60% of companies in the FTSE 100 Index have imbedded social responsibility activities, such as charitable giving, waste reduction initiatives, emissions reduction policy and sustainability committees.

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Article
Publication date: 5 March 2021

Muhammad Bilal Farooq, Rashid Zaman, Dania Sarraj and Fahad Khalid

This paper aims to evaluate the extent of materiality assessment disclosures in sustainability reports and their determinants. The study examines the disclosure practices…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to evaluate the extent of materiality assessment disclosures in sustainability reports and their determinants. The study examines the disclosure practices of listed companies based in the member states of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, colloquially referred to as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Design/methodology/approach

First, the materiality assessment disclosures were scored through a content analysis of sustainability reports published by listed GCC companies during a five-year period from 2013 to 2017. Second, a fixed effect ordered logic regression was used to examine the determinants of materiality assessment disclosures.

Findings

While sustainability reporting rates improved across the sample period, a significant majority of listed GCC companies do not engage in sustainability reporting. The use of internationally recognised standards has also declined. While reporters provide more information on their materiality assessment, the number of sustainability reports that offer information on how the reporter identifies material issues has declined. These trends potentially indicate the existence of managerial capture. Materiality assessment disclosure scores are positively influenced by higher financial performance (Return on Assets), lower leverage and better corporate governance. However, company size and market-to-book ratio do not influence materiality assessment disclosures.

Practical implications

The findings may prove useful to managers responsible for preparing sustainability reports who can benefit from the examples of materiality assessment disclosures. An evaluation of the materiality assessment should be included in the scope of assurance engagements and practitioners can use the examples of best practice when evaluating sustainability reports. Stock exchanges may consider developing improved corporate governance guidelines as these will lead to materiality assessment disclosures.

Social implications

The findings may assist in improving sustainability reporting quality, through better materiality assessment disclosures. This will allow corporate stakeholders to evaluate the reporting entities underlying processes, which leads to transparency and corporate accountability. Improved corporate sustainability reporting supports the GCC commitment to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and transition to sustainable development.

Originality/value

This study addresses the call for greater research examining materiality within a sustainability reporting context. This is the first paper to examine sustainability reporting quality in the GCC region, focussing particularly on materiality assessment disclosures.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 12 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 4 September 2020

Amira Jamil, Nazli Anum Mohd Ghazali and Sherliza Puat Nelson

Following the introduction of the revised Malaysian Code on Corporate Governance in 2012 (MCCG 2012), this study aims to investigate the influence of corporate governance…

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Abstract

Purpose

Following the introduction of the revised Malaysian Code on Corporate Governance in 2012 (MCCG 2012), this study aims to investigate the influence of corporate governance structure on the quality of sustainability reporting from the perspectives of agency theory and resource dependence theory.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on an analysis of 126 firms’ annual reports for the year ended 2010 and 2014, this study analyses sustainability reporting quality before the introduction of MCCG, 2012 (year ended 2010) and after (year ended 2014).

Findings

The findings of the study show that there was a significant increase in the quality of sustainability reporting from 2010 to 2014. Results from multiple regression analyses indicate that the number of sustainability-related training attended by the board of directors and the percentage of directors with sustainability-related experience have a significant impact on the quality of sustainability reporting.

Practical implications

Observations from the study provide useful insights into the importance of the appointment of directors with sustainability-related experience as part of the criteria for directors’ appointment. Moreover, the board of directors is encouraged to attend sustainability-related training to help firms improve sustainability practices and reporting.

Social implications

The increase in the quality of sustainability reporting indicates that companies are committed in ensuring that environmental degradation is put at the minimum level if not eliminated. It appears that companies are embracing the concept of sustainability reporting, and hence, contributing to improving and enhancing social well-being.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the discussion of both internal mechanisms (board independence and board capital) and external mechanisms (compliance to the code on corporate governance) of corporate governance structure on the quality of sustainability reporting. The findings can be used to identify necessary mechanisms that should be enhanced to strengthen the practice of sustainability reporting.

Details

Social Responsibility Journal, vol. 17 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-1117

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Article
Publication date: 19 March 2021

Muhammad Bilal Farooq, Rashid Zaman and Muhammad Nadeem

This study aims to evaluate corporate sustainability integration by evaluating corporate practices against the sustainability principles of inclusivity, materiality…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to evaluate corporate sustainability integration by evaluating corporate practices against the sustainability principles of inclusivity, materiality, responsiveness and impact outlined in AccountAbility’s AA1000 Accountability Principles (AA1000AP) standard.

Design/methodology/approach

Data comprise 12 semi-structured interviews with senior managers of listed New Zealand companies. Findings are evaluated against AccountAbility’s principles of inclusivity, materiality, responsiveness and impact, which are based on a normative view of stakeholder theory.

Findings

In terms of inclusivity, stakeholder engagement is primarily monologic and is directed more towards traditional stakeholder groups. However, social media, which is gaining popularity, has the potential to facilitate greater dialogic stakeholder engagement. While most companies undertake a materiality assessment (with varying degrees of rigour) to support sustainability reporting, only some use it to drive planning and decision-making. Companies demonstrate responsiveness to stakeholder concerns through corporate governance and sustainability initiatives. Companies are monitoring and measuring their impact on stakeholders using sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs). However, measuring traditional metrics is easier than measuring areas such as the community. In rare instances, the executive’s remuneration is linked to these sustainability KPIs.

Practical implications

The study findings offer useful examples of the integration of sustainability into corporate processes and systems. Practitioners may find the insights useful in understanding how sustainability is currently being integrated into corporate practices by best practice New Zealand companies. Regulators may consider incorporating AA1000AP into their corporate governance guidelines. Finally, academics may find the study useful for teaching business and accounting courses and to guide the next generation of business managers.

Originality/value

First, the study brings together four streams of research on how sustainability reports are prepared (inclusivity, materiality, responsiveness and impact) in a single study. Second, the findings offer novel insights by evaluating corporate sustainability against the requirements of a standard that has received little academic attention.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 12 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 30 July 2021

Laura Girella, Stefano Zambon and Paola Rossi

The role that the board can have in influencing the adoption of non-financial reporting (NFR) by companies is a topic that has raised interest in the recent literature…

Abstract

Purpose

The role that the board can have in influencing the adoption of non-financial reporting (NFR) by companies is a topic that has raised interest in the recent literature. However, very few have so far been said on the logic that underpins the selection by corporate boards of a particular model (sustainability and/or integrated). This study aims to examine if and to what extent board characteristics may influence the choice of companies to voluntarily publish a sustainability report, an integrated report or both of them, and if moderating variables, relating to incentives towards corporate transparency, may have an influence. Both of these types of reporting tools are in fact aimed at improving company disclosure towards sustainable development.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a multi-nomial regression analysis, this study tests the assumptions in a sample of companies listed on the Eurostoxx600 that adopt integrated or sustainability reporting or both of them for the period 2015–2018 for a total of 2,103 firm-years observations.

Findings

The results reveal that sustainability reporting is associated with board independence only, whilst the adoption of integrated reporting is influenced by board size and board independence. The same two variables influence also those companies that jointly adopt both sustainability and an integrated report. This confirms that integrated reporting requires more competencies and monitoring to be adopted. Furthermore, the results provide evidence that information asymmetry and financial constraints influence the decision of companies to publish the integrated report, sustainability report or both, whilst growth opportunities do not. Hence, moderating variables can have a role in explaining this association, and especially those that are related to the firm’s incentives related to the provision of financial capital by investors.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes to the literature in three ways. First, it proposes an incremental analysis of the relationship between board characteristics and voluntary disclosure of integrated reporting, considering the effects of moderating variables on this association. Second, the above relationship is examined in a comparative way vis-à-vis the adoption of sustainability reporting. Third, it demonstrates that the analysis of these reporting tools can benefit from an understanding that relies on both agency and stakeholder theories, that have to be conceived somehow complementary. In terms of limitations, this study is exclusively focussed on larger European listed firms, and therefore, the findings may not be valid for small and medium firms and for companies operating outside Europe.

Practical implications

This study provides useful insights for managers and policymakers to better understand which are the characteristics of the board composition that can best encourage a company to pursue a reporting strategy based on sustainable development. This results to be particularly relevant and timely in the European context if the authors take into consideration the developments of the European Parliament and Commission towards the launch of a new legislative proposal on sustainable corporate governance in 2021.

Originality/value

The study contributes to the existing literature in two ways. First, it offers a unique perspective on the direct and indirect effects of board characteristics on the adoption of integrated and/or sustainability reports by examining it in a comparative perspective. Second, it further demonstrates that the analysis of NFR and especially integrated reporting might benefit from the adoption of multiple conceptual lenses, in this case, agency and stakeholder theories.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

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Article
Publication date: 2 May 2019

Jenni Puroila and Hannele Mäkelä

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the socio-political role of materiality assessment in sustainability reporting literature and discuss the potential of…

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1947

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the socio-political role of materiality assessment in sustainability reporting literature and discuss the potential of materiality assessment to advance more inclusive accounting and reporting practices, in particular critical dialogic accounting.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on literature on the concept of materiality together with insights from stakeholder engagement, commensuration and critical dialogic accounting the paper analyses disclosure on materiality in sustainability reports. Empirically, qualitative content analysis is used to analyse 44 sustainability reports from the leading companies.

Findings

The authors argue that, first, the technic-rational approach to materiality portrays the assessment as a neutral and value-free measurement, and second, the materiality matrix presents the multiple stakeholders as having a unified understanding of what is considered important in corporate sustainability. Thus, the technic-rational approach to the materiality assessment, reinforced with the use of the matrix is a value-laden judgement of what matters in corporate sustainability and narrows down rather than opens up the complexity of the assessment of material sustainability issues, stakeholder engagement and the societal pursuit of sustainable development.

Originality/value

The understandings and implications of the concept of materiality are ambiguous and wide-reaching, as, through constituting the legitimised set of claims and information on corporate sustainable performance, it impacts our understanding of sustainable development at large, and affects the corporate and policy-level transition towards sustainability. Exploring insights from critical dialogic accounting help us to elaborate on the conceptions and practical implications of materiality assessment that enhance stakeholder engagement in a democratic, rather than managerial, spirit.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 20 January 2012

Andreas Christofi, Petros Christofi and Seleshi Sisaye

The purpose of this paper is to compare the sustainability disclosure methods‐instruments practiced by the two most widely employed indexes/instruments (DJSI World and…

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7777

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare the sustainability disclosure methods‐instruments practiced by the two most widely employed indexes/instruments (DJSI World and GRI‐G3 Guidelines). The paper suggests that the newly created triple bottom line (TBL) reporting practices need to undergo further standardization and enforcement to avoid, or give early warnings about, future corporate mismanagement that leads to socio‐economic consequences detrimental to investors and consumers in general.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper utilizes sample firms from the DJSI World Index and the GRI‐G3 Sustainability Guidelines membership list to draw inferences on sustainability indicators of performance. The authors compare the GRI reporting guidelines with the disclosure indicators of the DJSI World.

Findings

The authors' findings suggest that TBL reporting has made enormous progress over the last two decades. However, the two widely used sustainability reporting instruments/indexes (DJSI World and GRI‐G3 Guidelines) differ in disclosure practice‐methods and the authors recommend that further standardization and enforcement is necessary. The authors' view is that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) should become actively involved with the issue of standardization and enforcement of corporate socio‐environmental disclosures. The paper presents evidence that investors have neither rewarded nor penalized firms for adhering to or violating sustainability matters in their corporate decisions.

Practical implications

The authors argue for further standardization and enforcement with regard to the disclosure methods of the two widely used (GRI and DJSI) sustainability indicators in order to avoid future corporate mismanagement that leads to (systemic) economic and socio‐environmental consequences detrimental to citizen investors and consumers in general.

Originality/value

The research is of interest to academicians and practitioners who are interested in the theory and practice of sustainability reporting or TBL reporting. The findings suggest that this newly created disclosure instrument needs to undergo further standardization and enforcement for meaningful and accurate disclosure of economic‐social and environmental performance. The authors' view is that the SEC and FASB should become actively involved with the issue of standardization and enforcement of socio‐environmental disclosure of corporate sustainability.

Content available
Article
Publication date: 7 June 2021

Alessandro Lai and Riccardo Stacchezzini

This paper aims to trace subsequent steps of the sustainability reporting evolution in terms of changes in the organisation fields and professional jurisdictions involved…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to trace subsequent steps of the sustainability reporting evolution in terms of changes in the organisation fields and professional jurisdictions involved. As such, it highlights the (interrelated) organisational and professional challenges associated with the progressive incorporation of “sustainability” within corporate reporting.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on Suddaby and Viale’s (2011) theorisation of how professionals reshape organisational fields to highlight how organisational spaces, actors, rules and professional capital evolve alongside the incorporation of sustainability within corporate reporting.

Findings

The paper shows organisational spaces, actors, rules and professional capital mobilised during the recent evolution of sustainability reporting, starting from a period in which there was no space for sustainability, to more recent periods in which sustainability gained increasing momentum beyond initial niches, and culminating in more integrated forms of sustainability reporting.

Research limitations/implications

Although the analysis is limited to empirical evidence collected by prior research and practice on sustainability reporting, the paper offers a view to imagine how the incorporation of sustainability within corporate reporting relies on and affects organisational fields and professional jurisdictions.

Originality/value

The paper offers a lens to interpret corporate and professional challenges associated with the more recent evolutions of sustainability reporting practice and standard setting. It also allows framing the papers accepted in the special issue on “new challenges in sustainability reporting” and concludes by suggesting an agenda for future research.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 29 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

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Book part
Publication date: 12 March 2020

Giorgio Mion and Cristian R. Loza Adaui

Public-interest entities – among which are listed companies – are obliged to publish nonfinancial disclosure in some countries and regions. The European Commission…

Abstract

Public-interest entities – among which are listed companies – are obliged to publish nonfinancial disclosure in some countries and regions. The European Commission established mandatory nonfinancial disclosure by Directive 2014/95/EU. While a large body of literature was developed on sustainability reporting quality (SRQ) in voluntary context, evidence about the effect of mandatory nonfinancial disclosure on SRQ is controversial and previous experiences worldwide did not make clear if obligatoriness improves SRQ. This chapter aims to bridge the gap of empirical evidence about this phenomenon in European countries, focusing on first implementation of new legislation by Italian and German companies. The research has an explorative character and it adopts content analysis methods performed on sustainability reporting practices of companies listed in FTSE-MIB and DAX 30. The analysis aims to understand if obligatoriness affects SRQ, causes some changes in reporting practices such as harmonizing Italian and German ones by performing a cross-country comparison. The findings suggest that obligatoriness improves reporting quality and, above all, it fills the gap between different countries by fostering the adoption of international guidelines and the consequent introduction of some content, such as materiality analysis and quantitative measures of social and environmental performance.

Details

Non-Financial Disclosure and Integrated Reporting: Practices and Critical Issues
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-964-4

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Content available
Article
Publication date: 30 April 2021

Seleshi Sisaye

The purpose of this paper is to show the impact that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have on the evolution of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). GRI is a…

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1883

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to show the impact that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have on the evolution of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). GRI is a sustainability report disclosed by business organizations to meet the demands and interests of various stakeholders. These stakeholders’ needs have influenced GRI and its guidelines.

Design/methodology/approach

The methodology for this paper is library-based archival research. It is qualitatively and analytically descriptive of prior academic research and published literature on the subject.

Findings

Sustainability accounting rulemaking has evolved overtime resulting in proliferation of reporting rules. These rules have improved the extent and scope of environmental and economic performances that businesses disclose in GRI.

Originality/value

GRI has provided the foundation for integrated reporting (IR). Both GRI and IR have ecological and functional dimensions. Sustainability is functionally inherent in the accounting principle of materiality, when disclosed in external reporting. The ongoing concern of business assumes an organization is systemic and operates as a living entity only when it can provide sustainable performance that benefits stakeholders and society.

Details

Journal of Business and Socio-economic Development, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2635-1374

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