Sustainability Reporting Guidelines: Which to Choose?

By Stephen Withers and Peter Demediuk.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A powerful argument can be mounted that in order to maximise shareholder value (the fundamental objective of the CEO and board of directors), businesses should strive to act and be seen as principled and profitable rather than simply aim at being profitable – and this requires robust sustainability reporting on economic, environmental, and social performance. The objective of this study is to examine and compare a number of publications (advisories and guidelines) from various stakeholder groups that outline suggested approaches to the disclosure information on sustainability performance. This paper is written from a practitioner’s perspective in order to interrogate the comprehensiveness and accessibility – and thus utility - of five publications that are available to guide and shape an organisation’s attempts at sustainability reporting. Some of the competing frameworks of sustainability concepts are particularly well known, widely circulated and applied internationally, and are broad ranging in covering multiple economic, social and environmental factors; for example the Global Reporting Initiative framework of characteristics and indicators. Some alternative advisories and guidelines put out by governments, professional organisations, industry bodies and interest groups provide less well recognised frameworks for sustainability reporting.

Keywords: Sustainability reporting, Triple Bottom Line Performance, Guidelines and Advisories

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.45-60. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 936.304KB).

Stephen Withers

Manager External Reporting, Accounting, Villiage Roadshow Ltd., Melbourne, Vic, Australia

Stephen Withers is Manager of External Reporting at a major company and a postgraduate student at Victoria University.

Dr. Peter Demediuk

Senior Lecturer, College of Business, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Peter Demediuk is a CPA and academic with an interest in performance measurement and management.