W(h)ither Ecology? The Triple Bottom Line, the Global Reporting Initiative, and Corporate Sustainability Reporting
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Business Ethics 118 (1):13-29 (2013)
This paper offers a critique of sustainability reporting and, in particular, a critique of the modern disconnect between the practice of sustainability reporting and what we consider to be the urgent issue of our era: sustaining the life-supporting ecological systems on which humanity and other species depend. Tracing the history of such reporting developments, we identify and isolate the concept of the ‘triple bottom line’ (TBL) as a core and dominant idea that continues to pervade business reporting, and business engagement with sustainability. Incorporating an entity’s economic, environmental and social performance indicators into its management and reporting processes, we argue, has become synonymous with corporate sustainability; in the process, concern for ecology has become sidelined. Moreover, this process has become reinforced and institutionalised through SustainAbility’s biennial benchmarking reports, KPMG’s triennial surveys of practice, initiatives by the accountancy profession and, particularly, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)’s sustainability reporting guidelines. We argue that the TBL and the GRI are insufficient conditions for organizations contributing to the sustaining of the Earth’s ecology. Paradoxically, they may reinforce business-as-usual and greater levels of un-sustainability
|Keywords||Triple bottom line Global Reporting Initiative Corporate sustainability reporting Ecological sustainability Archival analysis|
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Citations of this work BETA
Colin Higgins, Markus J. Milne & Bernadine van Gramberg (2015). The Uptake of Sustainability Reporting in Australia. Journal of Business Ethics 129 (2):445-468.
Olivier Boiral (forthcoming). Accounting for the Unaccountable: Biodiversity Reporting and Impression Management. Journal of Business Ethics.
Shahzad Uddin, Javed Siddiqui & Muhammad Azizul Islam (forthcoming). Corporate Social Responsibility Disclosures, Traditionalism and Politics: A Story From a Traditional Setting. Journal of Business Ethics.
Stefan Schaltegger & Roger Burritt (forthcoming). Business Cases and Corporate Engagement with Sustainability: Differentiating Ethical Motivations. Journal of Business Ethics.
Wendy Stubbs & Colin Higgins (forthcoming). Stakeholders’ Perspectives on the Role of Regulatory Reform in Integrated Reporting. Journal of Business Ethics.
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