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Evaluating extra‐financial reporting The case of the German ranking of sustainability reports

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to introduce a long‐time report evaluation project of the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) and the business network “future – verantwortung unternehmen ”. Design/methodology/approach – On a regular basis, the IÖW/future‐Ranking evaluates the content and communicative quality of sustainability and CR reports of Germany's 150 largest companies. The project provides a platform where stakeholder expectations concerning corporate responsibility and transparency are synthesised into a comprehensive catalogue of reporting requirements. These criteria have to be met by the companies to reliably show sustainability commitment. Findings – The evaluation of the reports not only makes the sustainability reporting practice of companies comparable and transparent to the public. The set of criteria itself also serves as a reporting framework for companies and thus enhances directional certainty about corporate contributions to sustainable development. It is itself subject to a periodic evaluation and adaptation by means of dialogue and feedback processes with representatives from industry, politics and NGOs. Practical implications – The paper discusses the process of ranking and the possibilities for future developments in this. Originality/value – The process described has had little academic exposure and so the paper provides an original insight into a practical subject which has academic interest. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Applied Accounting Research Emerald Publishing
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