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Trends in sustainability reporting by the Fortune Global 250

"Against the background of critique on the negative social and environmental implications of globalization, multinational enterprises have become active in reporting on activities undertaken to prevent these ‘externalities’ of international trade and production. This article analyses to what extent and in what form the trend towards non-financial reporting, which started in the 1990s, has continued in the 21st century. It presents both trend and panel data of the Fortune Global 250 in 1998 and 2001, showing a continued and significant rise of sustainability reporting to approximately half of these multinationals, with some sector and country variations. One-third of the reports are externally verified. Especially in Europe and Japan, the ‘sustained’ nature of sustainability reporting is accompanied by regulatory requirements and government encouragements. The number of reports that includes social (and sometimes also financial) issues has increased considerably. The article also shows that in these reports the more ‘traditional’ topics, on the environment, corporate philanthropy and employees, receive much more attention than the broader external societal issues. It concludes with a reflection on the extent to which current forms of disclosure might address the concerns raised about multinationals' behaviour."
Ans Kolk
University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Graduate Business School, The Netherlands
Input By: 
Shekhar Chandra
mIT PhD student
Industry Focus: 
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