Understanding the Use of Sustainability Reporting and its Relation to the Market for External Assurance Services
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As spending on green initiatives has increased, the push to include metrics of sustainability in non-financial statements has also increased. However, the preparation of sustainability reports varies and external assurance is not currently mandatory for reports. Thus, there is an overall confusion on what information is necessary within a sustainability reporting, the purpose is to (1) evaluate current sustainability practices and (2) recommend ways sustainability reporting should continue to develop. This study investigates current sustainability reporting usage, frameworks, and external assurance. The study also seeks to define sustainability and terms related to sustainability. Reporting frameworks such as the IFAC Sustainability Framework 2.0 and the GRI G3 are currently being used by large companies issuing sustainability reports. These frameworks are considered to be the most prevalent guidelines used by large international companies in this study. As most companies have already spent to increase sustainability initiatives, it is assumed that the cost of preparing a report is marginal. Peer reviewed journals, current business periodicals, and firm white papers were utilized to learn about sustainability reporting and its many subtopics. Along with these sources, the IFAC and GRI websites were extensively utilized for information on current frameworks and upcoming changes. Company sustainability websites were evaluated based on provided sustainability information and the quality of available sustainability reports.