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CSR reporting and the UK financial services sector

Robert Day and Thérèse Woodward

Journal of Applied Accounting Research, 2009, vol. 10, issue 3, 159-175

Abstract: Purpose - Sector-specific guidelines have often been suggested as the way to encourage corporate social disclosure. The purpose of this research is to determine the extent to which disclosure in published annual reports of organisations within the financial services sector complies with their sector guidelines. Design/methodology/approach - The financial services sector can be broadly defined as consisting of three sub-sectors: Banks, Insurance Providers, and Building Societies, and the industry is dominated by a relatively small number of large mainstream providers. Here content analysis was used to investigate the disclosure of major banks, building societies and insurance providers, using their Annual Report and Accounts and, if published annually, their stand-alone CSR reports for the same period. Findings - Although the “moral” and “business-case” arguments should lead organisations to be accountable to their stakeholders in respect of their social and environmental impact, the level of disclosure is lamentably low across the financial services sector with an observable tendency for compliance to be related to size – the larger the organisation, the more likelihood of compliance, which might indicate a resource issue. Research limitations/implications - The nature of the enquiry did not permit an in-depth analysis of the motivations for extensive reporting. However, it allows the identification of those organisations seeking to legitimate or mediate perceptions of their behaviour, whereby only good news is reported by selective inclusion or exclusion of disclosure categories and issues. Originality/value - The paper contributes to the debate on whether sector-specific guidelines will increase the level and quality of corporate social disclosure.

Keywords: Disclosure; Banking; Corporate image; Social responsibility; United Kingdom (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2009
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