The European Commission designated 2005 as the twelvemonth of corporate societal duty. Since so, actions are taken to drive European concerns into a more balanced attack to economic, environmental and societal facets of their operations. In the same twelvemonth, the execution of the Accounts Modernisation Directive ( Article 46 of the 4th directive ) enforced the demand to inform stakeholders on sustainability public presentation ( FEE, 2008 ) and opened the manner for the incorporation of Corporate Social Responsibility ( CSR ) information into one-year studies.
Figure Stakeholder Communications in CSR-oriented houses ( beginning: Ernst & A ; Young ) CSR is definedA by the European Commission as “ the integrating by companies of societal and environmental concerns in their concern operations and in the interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary footing ” ( European Commission, 2003 ) . Hence, companies are expected to interact with and guarantee the benefits of progressively diverse stakeholders ( Baker, 2003 ) , as presented in the relevant figure. Part of this interaction includes the revelation of the results of their CSR activities. It has to be clarified that implementing CSR enterprises is one thing, while coverage is another.
This survey focuses on the latter, by analyzing the undermentioned issues: What are the recent developments on corporate coverage patterns with a focal point on European CSR oriented houses? What the hereafter of describing expressions like? What do the current developments and tendencies signify in footings of managerial deductions for modern concerns?
Social Accounting and Triple Bottom Line Reporting
The impression of stakeholder value is continuously broadened and expands beyond the fiscal public presentation of a house. Nowadays, concerns are besides accountable for their environmental and societal impacts on the society. Before we proceed with the survey, it is deserving looking into two impressions that are tightly connected to CSR and corporate answerability.
Social accounting is a cardinal construct for CSR, taking at placing and pass oning the societal and environmental impacts of a concern ‘ nucleus activities. It deals with corporate answerability to external stakeholders and examines the needed Key Performance Indicators ( KPI ‘s ) and describing patterns ( Blowfield & A ; Murray, 2008 ) . It is considered to be “ a valuated look of CSR ” , which signifies its importance ( Blanco & A ; Souto, 2009 ) . Social accounting is defined as “ the systematic process for registering, mensurating and pass oning the consequence of an administration ‘s activity on its stakeholders, fiscal and non-financial, in footings of economic sciences, the environment, concern civilization and the construct of administration ” ( Blanco & A ; Souto, 2009 ) .
Figure Triple Bottom Line ( beginning: University of Maryland )
Harmonizing to the above, the kernel of CSR, People-Planet-Profit, should be reflected on corporate coverage. Triple Bottom Line ( TBL ) introduces the societal and environmental facets into the public presentation measuring of an administration ( Blanco & A ; Souto, 2009 ) . While societal accounting sets the model of a house ‘s answerability, TBL coverage is the agencies of pass oning an organisation ‘s societal duty, by incorporating economic, environmental and societal values ( Blanco & A ; Souto, 2009 ) . It besides links to the thought that sustainability policies must hold a mensurable impact ( European Commission, 2004 ) . As we will see in the undermentioned chapter, an attempt is being made to develop criterions and guidelines to mensurate the societal and environmental public presentation of a house in a reasonably nonsubjective manner ( Norman & A ; MacDonald 2004 ) .
Recent Developments on Reporting Practices
Sustainability Reporting Standards and Guidelines
Table CSR Reporting Standards ( Danko et al. 2008 )
CSR Reporting Standards
Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines
SA 8000 – Social Accountability International
Aa 1000 – International AccountAbility
ISO 14000 – Environmental Management Standards
Connected Reporting Framework – Accounting for Sustainability
Communication on Progress supported – United nations Global Compact
EMAS – European CommissionIt goes without stating that the increasing importance of CSR has greatly influenced the coverage patterns of modern concerns. Over the last old ages, a wide scope of describing guidelines has been developed in order to assist the incorporation of societal and environmental information into corporate coverage. Approximately 100 different CSR criterions can be distinguished based on their geographical, sectoral and workforce coverage ( CSR Europe ) . Some of those are listed in the tabular array below. As it can be seen, in contrast to fiscal coverage there are no by and large accepted criterions for societal accounting.
The divergent criterions came as a consequence of the so far voluntary and unregulated character of CSR coverage ( Blanco & A ; Souto, 2009 ) . This proliferation of criterions and guidelines makes it hard to measure, comparison and measure the reported information. Consequently, the value of the disclosed sustainability information is earnestly degraded by the deficiency of normally accepted coverage ordinance ( FEE, 2008 ) .
However, the Global Reporting Initiative ( GRI ) has launched the most important sustainability describing guidelines in an international degree, sponsored by the UN ( ConsultNET ) . At the minute, most of the big, CSR-oriented administrations tend to aline their studies to the GRI guidelines ( ConsultNET ) . It should besides be mentioned that this tendency is supported in a national degree by authoritiess, whose influence is important on corporate coverage issues. The current state of affairs at a European degree is examined below.
European Guidance on Non-Financial Reporting
Non-financial coverage in Europe was initiated in 2005 with the execution of the Modernisation Directive ( Article 46 of the Fourth Directive, 2003 ) . The European jurisprudence sets the undermentioned demands:
“ To the extent necessary for an apprehension of the company ‘s development, public presentation or place, the analysis [ in the one-year reappraisal ] shall include both fiscal and, where appropriate, non-financial cardinal public presentation indexs relevant to the peculiar concern, including information relating to environmental and employee affairs ” ( European Commission, 2003 ) .
Hence, since 2005 coverage is expanded beyond the fiscal facets of a concern for all big companies, public or non ( FEE, 2008 ) . This is in conformity with the above mentioned GRI criterions and the direction commentary Guidance of the IASB ( FEE, 2010 ) , harmonizing to which all populace companies in the EU are required to describe since 2005.
The European Commission ‘s position on coverage patterns is besides stated in the Communication of 2006: “ societal and environmental coverage is extremely desirable, and it can best be achieved by promoting concern voluntarily to portion to the full what CSR activities have implemented ” . It is deserving foregrounding that CSR coverage is one time once more put more on voluntary bases and less on legislative demands.
A study conducted by the FEE ( 2008 ) has revealed that 21 of the European states have adopted the modernization directive, while some of them have implemented auxiliary statute law and counsel. Even though coverage in EU remains voluntary, the coverage demands vary among its members ( Tschopp, 2005 ) .
European Firm Case Studies
For the intents of this survey, it is considered utile to analyze how the coverage of European CSR oriented houses evolved through the last old ages, by looking into specific illustrations from different industrial sections and states. In general, the companies to follow CSR coverage are those with big possible environmental impact. However, recently corporate coverage of a broad scope of industrial sectors expands and integrates environmental, societal and economic information ( Danko et al. , 2008 ) . Two instances are presented afterlife, which are considered to representative.
The instance of DANONE clearly demonstrates the development of the coverage patterns over the last five old ages. In 2005 the published one-year reappraisal was focussed on concern and market public presentation. Although some environmental, safety and employee issues were discussed in a separate statement, fiscal and non-financial public presentation indexs were non integrated. However, since 2006 the company has been printing an one-year Economic and Social study, every bit good as a sustainability study, which for the first clip include societal and environmental every bit good as economic public presentation indexs. Danone.jpg
Figure DANONE Annual Report 2009 Every twelvemonth the sum of CSR related information being disclosed is increased. DANONE ‘s Economic and Social Report of 2009 extensively discusses the impacts of the company on the society and the local communities. The thought of intertwined concern growing and societal advancement is reflected in the study. Furthermore, actions against issues such as the responsible use of resources, C emanation decrease and offsetting, and the several results are being communicated to the populace. Equal importance is given to the revelation of corporate administration information, employee issues, HR policies and labour dealingss.
Although the sum of published corporate information has well increased, it is obvious that incorporate TBL coverage is still under development. Throughout the old ages a consistent model is non utilised and the reported information is non consistent. Though, a wide, well-structured system of public presentation indexs that to the full complies with the GRI guidelines is presented in DANONE ‘s sustainability studies. In this instance, a more consistent manner of coverage is adopted which makes the apprehension of the disclosed information easier and enhances comparison. Overall, the company is traveling from the narrative description of CSR policies to a more structured revelation of solid CSR information, based on an attempt to mensurate and quantify sustainability public presentation.
BT Group plc
BT is another good illustration of a European CSR oriented house to exemplify the developments that are taking topographic point in the field of corporate coverage. Five old ages ago, the published one-year study was largely focussed on fiscal coverage. Although the committedness to sustainability was stated several times, CSR was seen as a beginning of competitory advantage and a manner to add stockholder value. It provided a narrative description of CSR policies, programs and the countries that the activities were focussed on. Still, the existent consequences of the company ‘s CSR policies were non disclosed and non-financial KPI ‘s were non included in the one-year report.BT1.jpg
Figure BT Social and Environmental study 2008However, as the construct of societal duty gained important importance over the last old ages, bit by bit more CSR related information was disclosed in the one-year studies. In 2009, sustainability facets were presented in about every portion of the study. A system of non-financial KPI ‘s was besides presented in order to mensurate the advancement towards specific CSR ends. The company reported on the consequences of community engagement, environmental protection and other CSR activities.
It is deserving adverting that although the company has traditionally been utilizing non-financial public presentation indexs, these were presented in the Social and Environmental studies but non incorporate with corporate fiscal coverage until late. Finally, there is an obvious tendency towards quantifying and mensurating the public presentation and impacts of CSR enterprises. More touchable information is disclosed, yet, there is no consistence in the construction and the nature of reported information in the one-year studies.
The survey revealed that the most common ways of coverage are through corporate one-year studies or separate sustainability studies. Although companies select what sort of sustainability information is utile to be included in the one-year study ( FEE, 2008 ) , the manner societal and environmental information are reported is clearly influenced by the being of a sustainability study.
In most instances companies report beyond what is required by jurisprudence ( Blanco & A ; Souto, 2009 ) . However, as the coverage patterns are presently being developed, it is non yet clear what non-financial information should be disclosed in order to accomplish a just image of the public presentation and the place of the company. Hence, considerable differences exist in the content of one-year studies ( FEE, 2008 ) . These are besides due to assorted national legislative demands and specialnesss of different concern sectors.
To sum up, by analyzing the coverage patterns of a figure of CSR orientated houses ( Unilever, BP, Nestle, Royal Dutch – Shell ) and as the above illustrations illustrated, three important tendencies can be identified.
First, there is an attempt to mensurate and describe the advancement and the consequences of CSR activities. Modern companies are non merely limited to statements of committedness to CSR and description of their policies.
Second, there is a clear tendency towards a more structured and consistent manner of pass oning corporate CSR consequences.
Third, although some attempts to mensurate CSR pre-existed and were largely communicated through sustainability studies, the execution of the Modernisation Directive opened the manner for incorporate coverage of sustainability and fiscal information. Integrated describing seems to go more of import over clip.
A expression into the hereafter
As mentioned above, there are some apparent tendencies in the field of corporate coverage that outline its hereafter. In footings of ordinance, although the chance of lawfully imposed societal coverage seems distanced ( Tschopp, 2005 ) , harmonizing to Blanco & A ; Souto ( 2009 ) , enforcement of coverage is the following large measure in the field of CSR, while standardisation of studies is coming in the close hereafter. At the minute there is an on-going argument on whether EU should travel on a more regulated attack to CSR describing for public companies ( FEE, 2010 ) . The first measure towards this way would be traveling from principle-based ordinance to puting specific KPI demands ( European Commission, 2010 ) .reporting types.jpg
Figure Types of Reporting ( FEE, 2008 ) Besides, the demand for sustainability information from both internal and external stakeholders is expected to increase ( Ballou et al, 2006 ) . This, along with the approaching force per unit area from socially responsible investing financess and the influence of stock exchange evaluation systems, like the FTSE For Good, are expected to drive future developments ( Ballou et al, 2006 ) . The force per unit area from the markets will be passed on through the supply ironss ( European Commission, 2010 ) .
Therefore, it is expected that incorporate TBL coverage, either in the signifier of Annual Financial Reports or voluntary Sustainability Reports, is the hereafter of corporate revelation. Companies will necessarily travel towards the position of sustainability in their coverage, by mensurating and publically unwraping this information to fulfill the increasing demands of stakeholders ( Ballou et al, 2006 ) .
The coverage procedure has a important impact on concern determinations and activities ( Blanco & A ; Souto, 2009 ) . Hence, holding looked into the recent developments and future tendencies of corporate coverage, the survey now focuses on their significance in footings of challenges and chances from a managerial point of position.
The developments identified enforce a series of managerial challenges. Sing the invariably increasing importance of societal accounting, entrepreneurial schemes must account for environmental and societal values ( Blanco & A ; Souto, 2009 ) . CSR is bit by bit going portion of the concern determination devising procedure ( Danko et al. , 2008 ) through adding a new dimension on investing assessment, budgeting and strategic planning ( Blanco & A ; Souto, 2009 ) . However, incorporating sustainability patterns into traditional concern procedures is by itself disputing ( Hockerts, 2008 ) .
The current state of affairs requires the constitution of new public presentation direction systems and complicated balanced scorecards. A major challenge that companies will confront is quantifying their sustainability ends and mensurating their public presentation against specific marks ( Hockerts, 2008 ) . This requires the development of new KPI ‘s and their incorporation into concern control systems. Though, this is considered a hard undertaking which frequently meets considerable organizational opposition ( Hockerts, 2008 ) . Therefore, another issue that will hold to be addressed is how to accomplish employee committedness to CSR.
Covering with more than the traditional audience of one-year studies is another beginning of possible jobs. To stand up to the increasing demands of the assorted stakeholders, companies will hold to set up new direction systems ( Rubbens et al, 2002 ) . These might besides include alterations in the administration construction, as in the instance of BT which created the Corporate Responsibility Steering Group. Finally, due to the deficiency of ordinance companies must be cautious non to utilize coverage as a selling tool ( Tschopp, 2005 ) .
The chances that arise from the developments in corporate coverage patterns are double, External and Internal, harmonizing to the “ classical ” and “ transformational ” position of describing severally ( Rubbens et al, 2002 ) .
By informing the populace on non-financial issues and altering perceptual experiences through incorporate corporate coverage, companies can change the behavior of external stakeholders. Although mensurating this alteration is hard, it can hold significant impacts on the concern. Companies have the chance to better their image, beef up their trade names and therefore construct valuable intangible assets ( Danko et al. , 2008 ) . Firms that have adopted incorporate coverage patterns have well benefited. It is argued that organizing sustainability studies helps place early beginnings of problem and chances, largely related to repute and trade name direction ( ConsultNET ) .
Modern companies have now the ability to derive important competitory advantages by progressing their communicating with the stakeholders. Integrated coverage could work as a motivation for companies to prosecute in duologue with and have the feedback of an increased figure of stakeholders ( Rubbens et al, 2002 ) . It is important for keeping client trueness and holding a positive interaction with the communities ( Rubbens et al, 2002 ) . Further, it has been proved to ease fund elevation ( Danko et al. , 2008 ) .
Internally, the identified developments create chances for alteration and organisational transmutation ( Rubbens et al, 2002 ) . Although these tendencies entirely can non drive alterations to concern behavior and public presentation, they can act upon corporate determination devising and scheme by originating internal argument on concern patterns ( Rubbens et al, 2002 ) . Besides, sustainability coverage gives a long term position to concern scheme ( FEE, 2010 ) .
Reporting on non-financial facets can supply a better apprehension of the concern, while a more structured attack to corporate revelation can put the bases for effectual public presentation measuring against specific ends ( Hockerts, 2008 ) . Furthermore, consistent and incorporate coverage patterns can advance internal acquisition and lead to designation and execution of best patterns.
Examples of companies that benefited from such chances exist in the bibliography. Decision devising and public presentation direction in DANONE have been improved as a consequence of sustainability coverage. Benefits for organizational acquisition are reported in the instance of Nike ( Rubbens et al, 2002 ) .
Although we live in a universe where maximal net income is the ultimate step of success, the development of describing patterns reveals that this is non the manner of the hereafter. Investors and consumers progressively require sustainability along with fiscal information. The figure of companies following the TBL coverage throughout the last old ages comes to verify the above fact.
Having researched the topic on both theoretical and empirical degree, we derive the undermentioned decisions. CSR and societal accounting is non a impermanent tendency. Although an immediate will for farther regulation integrated coverage does non be, we believe that societal accounting will be a ambitious issue for European companies in the close hereafter. In this context, new signifiers of accounting will hold to be developed in order to efficaciously lucubrate and pass on non-financial information.
However, the developments reported in this survey generate chances for bettering monitoring and public presentation across administrations. Although TBL coverage is at its really early phases, by accommodating to the developments companies can place failings seasonably, better communicating with their stakeholders and receive constructing feedback. Finally, competitory advantages can be achieved through better interaction with the communities, which comprise the beginning of clients and employees.