‘Mere Puffery’ or Credible Disclosure? The Real Effects of Adopting Voluntary ESG Disclosure Standards
49 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2022
Date Written: July 20, 2022
In this paper, we examine factors prompting companies to voluntarily adopt sustainability standards for sustainability reporting and the consequences of such voluntary commitment. Using data on firms’ voluntary adoption of sustainability standards developed by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), we find that peer pressure, sustainability-focused institutional ownership, firm visibility and performance are among the main determinants of SASB standards adoption. In terms of consequences of standards adoption, we find improvements in various sustainability outcomes including fewer work-related injuries, lower toxic releases, fewer negative sustainability-related incidents, and higher sustainability ratings. Overall, these results inform our understanding of the conditions under which voluntary disclosure standards are likely to be adopted by firms and the potential real effects of such voluntary adoption.
Keywords: sustainability reporting standards; SASB; environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues; voluntary disclosure
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