This article examines sustainability disclosures by the major banks in the Asia-Pacific region (the six largest banks from each of four countries: Australia, Japan, China and India) during the period 2005–2012. The findings show sustainability disclosures by banks that participate in the global reporting initiative (GRI) are significantly higher than disclosures by those banks that have not participated in the GRI. Amongst those banks that have participated in the GRI there is a higher rate of disclosure by externally assured banks than by non-externally assured banks. Among the GRI participating banks, there was significant variation of disclosures between countries. Disclosures by Australian banks appeared to be significantly higher than disclosures by banks in any other countries under observation. The findings are discussed from a moral legitimacy perspective. Consistent with this view, the banks under study were responsive to the GRI, which is seen as an influential actor that shapes and reflects the expectations of the broader community. However, the role of the GRI in minimising country differences in disclosure by banks is not significant.
Bibliographical noteThe authors would like to thank and acknowledge a grant from Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA) in 2011 that enabled collection of the data that forms the basis of this research.
- moral legitimacy theory