Global Evolution of Environmental and Social Disclosure in Annual Reports
76 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2023 Last revised: 17 Jul 2023
Date Written: June 29, 2023
We study environmental and social (E&S) disclosures in annual reports. Using the word embedding model to examine more than 210,000 annual reports from 24,271 public firms in 30 international countries/regions between 2001 and 2020, we create an E&S dictionary that allows us to document trends in annual report E&S disclosure. Specifically, we find: 1) increases in length, boilerplate language, stickiness in disclosure, and the use of infographics, and 2) decreases in specificity. Our results also suggest that E&S disclosure quality improves after the adoption of voluntary ESG reporting frameworks but deteriorates after disclosure mandates. Our findings provide systematic evidence on the evolution of E&S disclosures in annual reports over the past two decades and shed light on how voluntary and mandatory standards have jointly shaped global E&S reporting practices.
Keywords: ESG, Disclosure
JEL Classification: M40, M60
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation