Sustainability Reporting and Assurance: A Historical Analysis on a World-Wide Phenomenon
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Sustainability reporting and assurance of sustainability reports have been used by organizations in an attempt to provide accountability to their stakeholders. A better understanding of current practices is important to provide a base for comparative and trend analyses. This paper aims to consolidate and provide information on sustainability reporting, assurance of sustainability reports and types of assurance providers. Another aim of this paper is to provide a descriptive analysis of these practices for a global sample, comparing results with previous studies, and suggesting opportunities for future research. To accomplish these objectives, a literature review was performed, an analysis of the organizations included in the Fortune Global 500 2010 was completed, and results were presented and consolidated by country. These results demonstrate that all organizations analysed provided some type of information in relation to their social or environmental performance in their official website. The percentage of organizations issuing a sustainability report has been increasing in the last few years. However, the percentage of organizations assuring their sustainability report has stagnated. Types of assurance engagements include those performed by accountants and non-accountants, and new practices have emerged, namely the ''mixed approach'' and the ''stakeholder or specialist review''. The analysis also shows that the practices of issuing sustainability reports and having them assured have become a world-wide phenomenon, occurring in developed, and emerging economies around the world.
Journal of Business Ethics
© 2014 Springer Netherlands. This is an electronic version of an article published in Journal of Business Ethics, Vol.120 (1) 1, pp 1-11, 2014. Journal of Business Ethics is available online at: http://link.springer.com/ with the open URL of your article.
Auditing and Accountability