Sustainability and triple bottom line reporting in the banking industry
Galamadien, Phillip Andre
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This study examined the status of disclosures on sustainability and triple bottom line (TBL) reporting in the banking industry. This was based on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) – G3 guidelines. An investigation on the four big banks were conducted namely ABSA, Firstrand Bank Limited, Nedbank and Standard Bank, disclosing information about the areas of sustainability and the triple bottom line, in relation to economic, environmental and social factors. The problem statement reflects disclosures in the annual financial reports of organisations on the triple bottom line which are of a voluntary nature. The quality of the triple bottom line reporting has remained fairly low and rarely covers those aspects that are more sensitive to sustainable development, thus ignoring issues of complexity and context, an issue further explored in the literature review. Other issues are sustainability factors, corporate social responsibility, triple bottom line and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in perspective and highlights how these intertwine with each other. In this study the empirical research adopts content analysis as a research method, after which the results of the standard disclosures of the GRI–G3 checklist on the four big banks are revealed. The GRI–G3 checklist was completed to assess the financial disclosures of the four big banks published in their 2010 annual financial reports. In the summary of the results the principles of the defining report content were used as a benchmark to analyse the disclosures of the annual financial reports. The paper concludes with the limitations and challenges faced, followed by recommendations based on the principles for defining report content from the GRI–G3 guideline and aspects that needs further attention due to disclosures not having been adequately represented.