The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Jenkins Report may be considered as one of the major documents that has provided the foundations for non-financial disclosures. Notwithstanding, there were other guidelines that were developed by other non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including; the Global Reporting Initiative, AccountAbility, Accounting for Sustainability (A4S), the World Intellectual Capital Initiative (WICI), the Enhanced Business Reporting Consortium, the CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project), the International Corporate Governance Network, the Sustainability Reporting Standards Board and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board, among others. The International Standards Organization (ISO), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Greenpeace, Rainforest Alliance and Home Depot Certifiable, Fair Trade and the US Department of Agriculture’s USDA Organic Labelling, among others, have formulated uncertifiable, multi-stakeholder standards and instruments to support organizations in their CSR communication. In addition, certain listed corporations are adopting Fortune’s reputation index, the KLD Social index or RepTrak (Camilleri, 2017). Such measures require corporate executives to assess the extent to which their organization behaves responsibly towards the environment and the community. Despite the development of these guiding principles and indices, their appropriateness remains doubtful (Camilleri, 2015).
In 2010, the development of ISO 26000 had represented a significant milestone in integrating socially and environmentally responsible behaviors into management processes. ISO 26000 was developed through a participatory multi-stakeholder process as the International Labor Organization (ILO) had established a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to ensure that ISO’s social responsibility standard is consistent with its own labor standards. In fact, ISO 26000’s core subject on ‘Labor Practices’ is based on ILOs’ conventions on labor practices, including; Human Resources Development Convention, Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines, Forced Labor Convention, Freedom of Association, Minimum Wage Fixing Recommendation and the Worst Forms of Child Labor Recommendation, among others. Moreover, ISO’s core subject on ‘human rights’ is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (that was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948). On the other hand, many academic commentators argue that ISO 26000 has never been considered as a management standard (Camilleri, 2017). The certification requirements have not been incorporated into ISO 26000’s development and reinforcement process, unlike other standards, including ISO 9000 and ISO 14001. Notwithstanding, ISO 14001 belongs to a larger set of ISO 14000 certifications that conform with the European Union’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).
The European Union (EU) has developed its non-binding guidelines for the non-financial disclosures of large, public-interest entities that engage more than 500 employees (Stubbs and Higgins, 2015; EU, 2014). The European Parliament mandated Directive 2014/95/EU on non-financial reporting; that was subsequently ratified by the European member states. Therefore, large undertakings are expected to disclose material information on their ESG behaviors. These entities are required to explain any deviations from their directive’s recommendations in their annual declaration of conformity, as per the EU’s “Comply or Explain” principle (Camilleri, 2015; EU, 2014). Their non-financial disclosures include topics, such as; social dialogue with stakeholders, information and consultation rights, trade union rights, health and safety and gender equality, among other issues. Moreover, the organizations’ environmental reporting could cover; material disclosures on energy efficiencies, the monitoring of efficiency levels their energy generation capacities, assessments on the co-generation of heating facilities, the use of renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions, water and air pollution prevention and control from the production and processing of metals, mineral industry, chemical industry, waste management, livestock farming, etc. (Camilleri, 2015). Therefore, large undertakings are expected to bear responsibility for the prevention and reduction of pollution. The EU recommends that the large organizations implement ILO’s Tri-partite Declaration of Principles on Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, as well as other conventions that promote the fair working conditions of employees. It also makes reference to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and mentions ISO 26000 Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility (EU, 2014). Following, the EU’s mandate for non-financial reporting, it is expected that 6,000 European public interest entities will be publishing their sustainability reports in 2018, covering financial year 2017-2018 (GRI, 2017).
Camilleri, M.A (2015). Environmental, Social and Governance Disclosures in Europe. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal. 6 (2), 224 – 242. Emerald. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/SAMPJ-10-2014-0065 Download this paper
Camilleri, M.A. (2015). Valuing Stakeholder Engagement and Sustainability Reporting. Corporate Reputation Review, 18 (3), 210-222. Palgrave Macmillan DOI:10.1057/crr.2015.9 http://www.palgrave-journals.com/crr/journal/v18/n3/full/crr20159a.html Download this paper
Camilleri, M.A. (2017). Measuring the corporate managers’ attitudes toward ISO’s social responsibility standard. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence. (forthcoming). http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14783363.2017.1413344 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14783363.2017.1413344 Download this paper
Camilleri, M.A. (2017). Corporate Sustainability, Social Responsibility and Environmental Management: An Introduction to Theory and Practice with Case Studies. Springer, Heidelberg, Germany. ISBN 978-3-319-46849-5 http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319468488
CSRWire (2015). Environmental, Social and Governance Reporting in Europe. http://www.csrwire.com/blog/posts/1574-environmental-social-and-governance-disclosures-in-europe