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Corporate Sustainability: Integrating Performance and Reporting


Make sustainability happen, Corporate sustainability is the responsibility of every organization, not just a select few.

Corporate Sustainability explores business sustainability and accountability reporting and their integration into strategy, governance, risk assessment, performance management, and the reporting process. Written by renowned experts in the field of managing for sustainable performance, this important book also highlights how people, business, and resources collaborate in a business sustainability and accountability model.

Take a look inside for essential guidance on:

  • The case for sustainability
  • Best practices of sustainability programs
  • Sustainability risk management
  • The sustainability reporting process
  • Web-based corporate reporting
  • Promoting transparency in financial reporting
  • Global convergence in corporate governance
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • The ethical dimension of sustainability
  • Global environmental initiatives and regulations

A significant contribution on how to put sustainability principles to work, Corporate Sustainability offers real-life tools and practices for creating an authentic corporate framework for sustainability.

"Companies seeking to embrace sustainability must navigate a thicket of policies and standards, from ethical performance to environmental protection to executive compensation—and do so transparently, comprehensively, and globally. Ann Brockett and Zabihollah Rezaee have created a valuable field guide to this brave new world of multiple bottom lines, providing guidance on how companies can engender public trust and investor confidence while pursuing their economic goals."
—Joel Makower, Executive Editor,, author, Strategies for the Green Economy

ANN BROCKETT is the Americas Assurance Leader for Climate Change and Sustainability Services at Ernst & Young. Ms. Brockett serves a broad range of clients to identify and develop alternatives that address emerging risk areas and in providing financial and non-financial assurance services.

ZABIHOLLAH REZAEE is the Thompson-Hill Chair of Excellence and Professor of Accountancy at the University of Memphis. He served a two-year term on the Standing Advisory Group (SAG) of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xix


Chapter 1: Introduction to Business Sustainability and Accountability Reporting 3

Executive Summary 3

Introduction 4

The Case for Sustainability 5

Current Status of Sustainability and Accountability 6

Drivers of Sustainability Initiatives and Practices 7

Best Practices of Sustainability Programs 10

Principles of Business Sustainability 14

Business Sustainability and Corporate Accountability Framework 14

Key Performance Indicators 16

Emerging Issues in Sustainability Reporting 17

Promotion of Sustainability Development, Performance, and Disclosures 21

Conclusion 22

Action Items 22

Notes 23

Chapter 2: Brief History of Sustainability Reporting 27

Executive Summary 27

Historical Perspectives 27

Recent Developments and Initiatives 29

Status of Business Sustainability and Sustainability Reporting and Assurance 31

Going Forward 32

Conclusion 33

Action Items 33

Notes 34

Chapter 3: Business Sustainability and Accountability Initiatives, Reporting, and Assurance 37

Executive Summary 37

Multiple Bottom-Line Dimensions of Business Sustainability 37

Usefulness of Sustainability Information 39

The Sustainability Reporting Process 41

Sustainability Reporting in Action 46

Promotion of Sustainability Reporting 47

Future of Sustainability Reporting 48

Mandatory versus Voluntary Sustainability Reports 51

Sustainability Assurance 53

Continuum of Assurance on Sustainability Information 57

Internal Controls Relevant to Sustainability Performance 58

Sustainability Risk Management 58

Conclusion 61

Action Items 62

Notes 62


Chapter 4: Sustainability, Corporations, Capital Markets, and the Global Economy 69

Executive Summary 69

Global Economy and Financial Crisis 69

Capital Markets 71

Role of Corporations in Society 72

Sustainability Information Needs of Investors 74

Corporate Reporting 77

Recent Initiatives in Corporate Reporting 79

Web-Based Corporate Reporting 83

Predictive Business Analytics 84

Narrative Reporting 85

Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance (GRC) Reporting 86

Sustainability Reporting 87

Conclusions 88

Action Items 88

Notes 89

Chapter 5: Economic Vitality as a Component of Sustainability 91

Executive Summary 91

Introduction 91

Economic KPIs 92

Public Trust and Investor Confidence in Financial Information 92

Internal Control Reporting 98

Internal Control Reporting Requirements 101

Integrated Financial and Internal Control Reporting 105

Conclusion 109

Action Items 110

Notes 110

Chapter 6: The Corporate Governance Dimension of Sustainability 113

Executive Summary 113

Corporate Governance Definition 114

Drivers of Corporate Governance 114

Global Convergence in Corporate Governance 116

Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 117

Dodd-Frank Act 121

The United Kingdom’s Financial Regulatory Framework 122

Listing Standards Related to Corporate Governance 123

Corporate Governance in the Post-Crisis Era 123

Corporate Governance Functions 128

Board Committees 131

Proxy Voting for Sustainability 134

Emerging Corporate Governance Issues and Challenges 138

Corporate Governance Reporting and Assurance 139

Conclusion 142

Action Items 143

Notes 144

Chapter 7: The Social Dimension of Corporate Sustainability 147

Executive Summary 147

Introduction 147

Social Performance 148

Social KPIs 150

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) 151

CSR and Financial Performance 159

CSR Performance Measurement 160

CSR Programs 161

Components of CSR 163

CSR Reporting 164

Conclusion 167

Action Items 168

Notes 168

Chapter 8: The Ethical Dimension of Sustainability 171

Executive Summary 171

Business Ethics 172

Ethics and Law 172

Ethics KPIs 176

Workplace Ethics 177

Training and Ethics Education 182

Corporate Culture 183

Corporate Codes of Ethics: Rules and Best Practices 185

Financial Reporting Integrity 185

Ethics Reporting 187

Conclusion 190

Action Items 191

Notes 191

Chapter 9: The Environmental Dimension of Sustainability Performance: Government Policy, Societal Forces, and Environmental Management 193

Executive Summary 193

Introduction 194

Emerging Environmental Issues 194

Environmental KPIs 196

Environmental Regulations in the United States 198

Global Environmental Initiatives and Regulations 203

European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) 208

Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) 209

California Assembly Bill 32 209

Global Progress 209

Societal Actors Influencing Corporate Environmental Behavior 215

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 220

Environmental Management Systems (EMS) 222

Environmental Reporting 226

Environmental Assurance and Auditing 229

Conclusion 230

Action Items 231

Notes 232


Chapter 10: Business Sustainability in Action: Global Initiatives and Emerging Issues 239

Executive Summary 239

Introduction 240

Global Initiatives on Business Sustainability 240

Social Accountability International (SAI) 244

Macro Sustainability Issues 248

Climate Change 250

Sustainability KPIs 254

Business Sustainability in Action 259

Lessons Learned from Sustainability 260

Emerging Issues in Sustainability 263

Conclusion 266

Action Items 267

Notes 267

Chapter 11: The Future of Business Sustainability: Sustainability Reporting and Assurance 271

Executive Summary 271

Introduction 271

The Emergence of Business Sustainability 272

Sustainability Reporting 274

Sustainability Assurance 287

Sustainability Assurance and Internal Control 297

Emerging Trends in Sustainability Reporting 297

Sustainability Assurance in Action 298

Sustainability Database 299

Sustainability Education 300

Conclusion 300

Action Items 301

Notes 302

About the Authors 305

Index 307