The Association between Sustainability Governance Characteristics and the Assurance of Corporate Sustainability Reports
53 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2013 Last revised: 13 Jun 2016
Date Written: July 15, 2013
The following study seeks to provide evidence on whether sustainability-oriented corporate governance mechanisms impact the voluntary assurance of corporate sustainability reports. Specifically, we consider the presence and characteristics of environmental committees on the board of directors and a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) among the management team. When examining the assurance services, we make a distinction between those services performed by external assurance providers and the company’s internal auditors. We find that the presence of an environmental committee and a CSO are positively associated with corporate sustainability report assurance services. However, presently, environmental committees appear to prefer the services of consultants and internal auditors. Additional analysis suggests the associations are conditional upon the committee’s expertise and overlap with the audit committee. Similarly, sustainability assurance appears to increase in relation to CSO expertise. Our results are particularly important to those with interests in understanding the evolution and demand for sustainability assurance, as well as the impact of environmental governance mechanisms that are increasingly part of the corporate mosaic. Overall our results suggest that there remain large opportunities for both external and internal audit standard setters to establish stronger guidelines increasing the value and demand for sustainability assurance services.
Keywords: sustainability assurance, corporate governance, assurance providers, Chief Sustainability Officers, environmental committees
JEL Classification: M14, M49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation