An Analysis of Guidelines and Assurances Used in Sustainability Accounting Reporting

Wong, Hoi Yan
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
In the accounting industry, there is an increasing trend for companies to prepare sustainability accounting reports, not only financial reports, to fulfill the needs of stakeholders. Financial reports present financial information about a company’s financial performance and follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), which are adhered to by the accounting profession. Sustainability accounting reports present information about three main topics – profit, planet, and people; however, there are currently no standards or regulations like GAAP for sustainability accounting reports to follow. Currently there are no standards or regulations from Financial Accounting Standards Board, International Accounting Standards Board, or U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission offering standards for the preparation of sustainability accounting reports. Further, companies are not required to report on sustainability accounting matters, although many do so voluntarily. This lack of standards and regulations has created an opportunity for numerous organizations to market their versions of guidelines and assurances for reporting sustainability accounting information, but these versions vary from one organization to the other. Thus, uniform guidelines/standards and assurances are needed for sustainability accounting reports. This paper begins with an explanation of what sustainability accounting reporting is and why this type of reporting is necessary for companies. Next, the paper then offers in depth analysis of these guidelines and assurances with the goal of encouraging policy makers to institute a uniform set of guidelines/standards. The paper then traces reporting guidelines and assurances that are currently being implemented by the top 100 companies listed on the Fortune 500 and Fortune Global 500 lists of companies.
Assurances, guidelines, corporate social responsibility, sustainability report
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