Online from: 2005
Subject Area: Accounting and Finance
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|Title:||A study of sustainability verification practices: the French case|
|Author(s):||Claire Gillet, (Montpellier Research Management (MRM), Université Montpellier 2, Montpellier, France)|
|Citation:||Claire Gillet, (2012) "A study of sustainability verification practices: the French case", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Vol. 8 Iss: 1, pp.62 - 84|
|Keywords:||Auditors, Corporate social responsibility, Environmental accounting and reporting, France, French case, Social accounting, Social and environmental accounting, Sustainability accounting, Sustainability assurance, Sustainability information, Sustainability verification|
|Article type:||Case study|
|DOI:||10.1108/18325911211205748 (Permanent URL)|
|Publisher:||Emerald Group Publishing Limited|
Purpose – The growth in social and environmental reports is followed by a growth in reports including an assurance statement done by an outsider to the company. The aim of this paper is to study the implementation by companies of a third party assurance provision to their sustainability reports.
Design/methodology/approach – The author examined the practices of French companies as far as verification of sustainability information is concerned and opted for an exploratory study. The study analyses the assurance statement of French CAC 40 listed companies publishing a sustainability report verified by a third party. It also analyses semi-structured interviews conducted with sustainability managers and assurance providers.
Findings – The paper provides an insight of how assurance reports are stated and it seems that they lack precision and explanation. The interest for companies to engage in the assurance of their sustainability information is to manage their sustainable development policy and to progress in reporting their sustainability information. Moreover, the aim of sustainability verification is to assure users of the accountability and reliability of the disclosed information. The sustainability assurance engagement is mainly a quest for legitimacy.
Research limitations/implications – The sample of semi-structured interviews could be enlarged and other important actors such as shareholders or non-financial rating agencies interviewed. Further research could be conducted at an international level, thus allowing embracing institutional contexts for each country.
Originality/value – This paper contributes to the emerging literature about sustainability assurance practices and could be of interest to managers and auditors to improve the assurance practices of social and environmental reporting.
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