SYNOPSIS

The number of companies reporting their corporate sustainability (CS) activities has significantly increased over the last decade. The result being a wide variability in the types of activities being reported and the ways the information is presented. An unanswered question is whether the information being reported by companies following the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) CS framework is of interest to arguably one of the primary stakeholder groups, customers. Our study seeks to fill this knowledge gap by comparing the content of CS reports to results from a large-scale consumer stakeholder survey. By performing factor analysis on stakeholder evaluation of the importance of CS activities, we find that consumers see different dimensions than those put forth by the GRI framework, thereby suggesting a disconnect between corporate sustainability reporting and stakeholder views and interests. Our results indicate that risk and compliance are dimensions of interest to customers, while the GRI economic dimension is not viewed as important. Additionally, a new dimension of social justice is the most important to consumer stakeholders. Furthermore, the study highlights particular activities within each factor that are most important to the consumer stakeholder group. This research has implications for preparers of sustainability reports and organizations, such as the GRI, that establish guidance for sustainability reporting.

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