During the recent decades, the local, national and global effects of human activities on the physical environment have increased immensely. Consequently, comprehensive policies have been developed and implemented to ensure that companies outlay a high level of social responsibility to the environment. Equally, research literature and international policies have subjected a full angle of interest in providing that corporations can disclose their annual activities that have an impact on the wellbeing of the physical environment. According to research, companies have increased their environmental responsibility by providing voluntary yearly ecological reports that outlay the company’s financial and non-financial, quantitative and qualitative social activities on an annual base.
For long scholars have addressed environmental disclosure as a broad topic that evaluates the responsible nature of these companies. However, the study aims to identify the extent that the annual report coincides with the actual responsibility that these companies deliver. Without a doubt, companies around the globe may provide clear and consistent environmental disclosures; regardless recent interest in the area has suggested that these revelations are only delivered to suit the wellbeing of the company. For instance, mining companies are profoundly affected by the social environment. In fact, mining companies form a substantial basis of the Australian economy.
The study aims at performing a content analysis on 75 annual reports on companies from different industry groups in the country. The purpose of the study is to identify whether environment disclosures serve as social or financial rehabilitation attempts by these companies, or they fulfill the required function. The study analyzes the consequence of the environmental disclosure requirement in the corporate field of the country and will look to evaluate how companies have integrated the condition either as self-beneficial or social responsibility.
The environmental disclosure requirement demands that companies should provide a list of activities that pose a risk to the external environment. Similarly, companies are expected to disclose information on gas emissions including the greenhouse gas effect and the information on environmental management initiatives, which uncover the critical ecological risk, entailed in debt exposure and cost management. Significantly, the materials and energy industry accompanied by the utilities, transportation and media sectors disclose the highest level of environmental risk in Australia. Companies with a high profile of environmental risk are expected to provide clear reports that express their financial, environmental risk or other ecological related impacts that is useful to investors and the community.
Most countries have adopted the importance of environmental disclosure as a measurement of the company’s impact on the environment as well as risk and performance. Health initiative programs including the Greenhouse challenge and the National packaging convent have contributed to the increased demand for environmental reporting (Sutantoputra, 2016). Under international commitments regarding the nature of biodiversity and level of climate change, local and national initiatives have reinforced the importance of voluntary disclosure as a way of companies to nullify their impacts on the physical environment (Christ, 2013). Similarly, investors and company stakeholders have increased their demand for information on product producing firms. The amount of information disclosed by companies is useful in analyzing where to invest and the total amount of risk and environmental performance.
According to the Financial Services Reform Act (FSRA) of March Australia 2002, companies from the service sector are expected to show their investment decisions based on their environmental impact (BurgwalI & Vieira, 2014). However, the report assumes that businesses have diverted the purpose of the disclosure requirement to rehabilitate the financial and social appearance of these companies. Frequently, research has analyzed disclosure reports based on their size and amount of writing. For the most part, the story aims at a content analysis on the disclosure reports provided by some companies in Australia. The study should support the validity of inferences developed based on the evidence from annual disclosures from organizations from different industries and their actual relation to the physical environment. The study will analyze any material regarded as a disclosure in the annual reports of these companies. Furthermore, the study will code the declaration as either rehabilitation or a responsible stride by companies, in regards to the level of expressed dominance in the financial, management and social realms of the company.
Companies originating from different realms of the service sector provide annual reports defining their position on the disclosure requirement. The study looks forward to proposing a means of evaluating the relevance of the information they provide, by analyzing the similarity of these disclosures and the actual occurrence in the environment (Foerster, 2016). The study will focus on developing a coding instrument that evaluates the value of information provided in the annual reports. In particular, specified literature has been produced addressing the concept of implementing environmental disclosure in the Australian commercial industry. Although research has equated Australia as a growing country in regards to the application of the requirement, much research has supported the assimilation of voluntary disclosure reports as ambiguous as presented by many corporations in the industry.
The study by Monash University outlays an exciting outlook on the complicated relationship between environmental performance and environmental disclosure by twenty-five companies in Australia (Sutantoputra, 2016). Through quantitative and qualitative approaches the study conveys an incomplete connection between what is provided as the environmental disclosure and what’s actually happening in the environment. The study argues that the level of environmental impacts that these companies have does not relate to the actual level of disclosure provided annually. The study supports that most corporations disclose information selectively to suit their base of shareholder demand for information as well as their costs in management. The report identified that most companies provide a relevantly low value of disclosure as compared to the actual data that they should contribute to the public. Significantly the company size and the capital ability of companies affect the length and value of disclosure (Sutantoputra, 2016). Highly polluting firms were identified to vary a tremendous amount of revelation in the sense of attaining financial cuts and reducing the length of tax benefits subjected to them.
To this length, environmental disclosures are perceived as limited since most companies may evaluate the targeted costs to be higher than the standard benefits that they acquire. To a further length, the study divided the factors that influence environmental disclosure into four categories; basing the argument on the level of performance of a company and the level of exposure portrayed. The analysis found that a high level of disclosure was attained from Green companies (excellent performance and high disclosure) and green washing enterprises (poor performance and high exposure) (Sutantoputra, 2016). These companies provide an upper length of disclosure due to a high demand for disclosure in the financial market. Similarly, consumers have exhibited a high need for social responsibility in the different period of demand for the product. On the other hand, Silent Con-companies (poor performance and low disclosure) and silent Achiever firms (good performance and small exposure), expressed a low level of environmental declaration due to the low level of stakeholder demand for information.
The study presents the Stakeholder theory as an acute presentation of why most Australian companies disclose information selectively. Not only does the report provide a basis for evidence in the implementation of the environmental requirement, but goes forward to show how Australian corporations have taken the implications of the element. As far as ecological disclosure is concerned, Anita Foerster assumes a new angel in evaluating the environmental effects of firms about carbon risk (Foerster, 2016). The author conveys a great level of research on the use of renewable and diverse technologies, and its implications for Australian companies especially those that reside in the Industry. Most businesses that emit gases in the country are expected to outline the exposure to material industry risk (Foerster, 2016). However, regardless of some emissions as the changes instigated, research showed that energy firms do not report these threats, which puts them in a viable position for potential financial risk.
The report analyzes how companies in the U.S have failed to adhere to climate change policies that expect clear reports on carbon risk disclosure (Foerster, 2016). Organizations have been unable to disclose the financial impacts of the exposure to their investors, creating an economic risk that may emerge in the future. The author presents a well-authenticated argument that carbon risk disclosure may have positive impacts on the financial nature of these companies and to the environment as a whole (Foerster, 2016). As can be expected, most businesses are against change however the assimilation of full environmental disclosure could have positive impacts on the business and the Australian environment as a whole.
This study will conduct an analysis on 75 annual reports of companies from five industry groups, all of which had Corporate Environmental Policy in place (Miller, 2015). Once obtained, the annual reports were analyzed using content analysis. Krippendorff (1980, p21) states that:
…content analysis is a research technique for making replicable and valid inferences from data according to their context.
An essential element of research design in content analysis is the selection and development of categories into which content units can be classified. Holsti, (1969 p -69) states that “…content analysis stands or falls by its categories”. For this study, the content units were defined as a sentence in the annual report that was considered to be an environmental disclosure. The definition of an environmental disclosure that was developed and provided to the coders is:
…any sentence that discusses or mentions any aspect of the natural environment and/or its relationship with the organization.
A coding instrument will be developed which classified each environmental disclosure as either rehabilitation related or other environment related (Christ, 2013). The non-rehabilitation environment related sentences will be then classified further into categories so that the relative dominance of each individual category can be compared to rehabilitation. In the few studies specifically on the environment, a number of sub-categories have appeared, these were adapted for use in this study and additional categories added that were developed from the literature (Cowan, 2011). In four places like director’s statement; the financial statements (including notes); a separate section on the environment; or any other part of the annual report will be investigated to find the environmental disclosure (Cowan, 2011).
The following steps will follow to complete investigations:
Firstly, there are various types of services industries in Australia. This research will choose 5 different types of services industry group, named Banks, Hospitals, Education, and Tourism, Mining firms. Secondly, from each industry group, five different publicly listed leading companies will choose like – from the Banking industry, this research will select Westpac, Commonwealth bank, Citi Bank, St George, and HSBC. From each company, recent last 3 years publicly available Annual reports will be downloaded. There will be total (25 companies * 3 annual report from each company) 75 annual reports for analysis. The year will be 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Thirdly, a specific research paradigm will be developed i.e. checklist will develop to fit all data into that checklist (Lim, 2007). This research will develop this checklist according to research questions factors to full fill research objectives. Each checklist item will have two response either compliance standards or non-compliance with the standard (Cuganesan, 2010). According to the results, a deductive analysis will be applied. A deductive analysis will first aim to draw a conclusion from the various annual reports, the various requirements of the study and then apply them to companies such as to gain relevant insights into the same. In the checklist, there will be a score between compliance standards and non-compliance. This scoring system will use to conduct quantitative data analysis (Frost, 2007).
|Industry and Items||compliance standards||non-compliance|
|Words||Sentences||Not at all||Other section|
Fourthly, the data table will use NV Ivo software to conduct data analysis through quantitative techniques; results will be obtained regarding disclosure norms for these listed companies (Lim, 2007). With these quantitative techniques, deduction concept will be applied. Post application of logical reasoning and deriving from the companies, findings, and analysis will be developed and obtained from the research. Deduction from these data can be obtained by means of quantitative analysis then subsequent qualitative content analysis. This findings and analysis will be in line with many researchers (Herawaty, 2007).
Limitations and findings: This step will describe this research limitation and what our desire findings are.
The study conveyed a study on 75 annual reports presented in the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 accordingly. According to the survey, different organizations have exhibited different levels of environmental disclosure at every annual report. The difference between the lengths of exposure will suggest that the size of the company being investigated will vary the value and height of disclosure (Christ, 2013). Where hospitals and educational enterprises have evaluated a low level of exposure annually, firms from the tourism, banking and mining sector have contributed a high amount of disclosure annually. For the most part, the study suggests that businesses emerging from hospitals and education industries experience a low level of demand for annual environmental information (Agency, 2016). Shareholders of these companies do not have a high need for accountability from these firms; thereby these businesses may have a good performance but disclose a low note of environmental disclosure annually.
Hospitals and Education firms serve a general public; thereby the analysis on their level of environmental impact may be of a small quantity as compared to other businesses in the Australian industry. Qualitative research on the value of disclosure in the green companies shows that the size of hospitals and the education institutions accounts for the high range of disclosed data that is available through the years. On the other hand, banking firms have high shareholder expectancy (BurgwalI & Vieira, 2014). Corporations from the mining and banking realms of the industry make up much of the private sector industry in the country. In fact, mining companies are said to contribute a large percentage of the economy of Australia. These companies have exhibited a tremendous value of data regarding environmental disclosure.
The qualitative research reveals that mining, banking, and tourism firms have much effect on the environment. Mining companies have a particular relation to different impacts on the physical environment (BurgwalI & Vieira, 2014). Similarly, banking and tourism companies are expected to attract investors, and a considerable value of shareholders expects these firms to account for the collective benefit of activities that these firms have encountered in the year. Mining, banking, and tourism companies will give the highest value of data to be examined; however, a quantitative analysis of the data shows that these companies disclose particular information that protects their financial well-being and stability. Mining companies exhibited the highest bit of a un-related relationship between the disclosures and the environmental performance (Sutantoputra, 2016). The results reflect that these corporations have disclosed specific lengths of information’s and failed to outline their overall performance.
Consequently, banks provide information that is only applicable to the eyes of their shareholders. On the most part, they have failed to impact the physical environment; they disclosures tend to lean on financial stability and cost management (Sutantoputra, 2016). With an excessive focus on economic figures, banks have been unable to impact positive initiatives that have positive changes in the environment.
The results of the study support the different theories suggested by previous scholars in the area of interest. The shareholder theory suggests that companies will tend to disclose information that will please the shareholders of the company, or otherwise outlay a subtle investing environment for potential shareholders. Service companies from the Australian industry have exhibited varied disclosure of information based on their size, industry, and audience (Christ, 2013). According to the study, companies disclose information that is useful for investment purposes. The study varied a survey across the comparison of market responsiveness of these businesses and their amount of disclosure to this field.
Hospitals and Education institutions have a legitimate responsibility of providing environmental disclosure. About the legitimacy theory, organizations will account for annual exposures to fulfill the political will of the state, thus protect their legitimacy and ensure that they retain a level of influence on public opinion and policy. These companies reflect a certain length of pressure emerging from social and political backgrounds. For instance, it is required by the government that public institutions provide a particular value of disclosure that focuses on a defined area (BurgwalI & Vieira, 2014). Thereby health care providers and educational institutions will disclose information in the expected areas. Mining and banks assume the shareholder theory, where the results of these agencies show that the length of disclosure depends on shareholder references. These companies have shown only to disclose information that protects their interest and fail to account for their full environmental influence.
Companies provide the annual disclosure to provide an assessment of the company’s environmental risk. The environmental risk of the company reflects on the relative and potential risks that may emerge due to the policies and initiatives adopted. Investors use the report to gain a better financial understanding of the company. Most Australian companies provide environmental disclosures that satisfy the urge of potential investors to invest in their organizations. However, the study suggests that companies can gain positively from full disclosures. In this particular case, mining companies that provide a comprehensive disclosure event of the impact of the firm to the environment may increase undoubtedly. Accurate exposures may cause the state to improve the policies that govern pollution and the environmental effect (Agency, 2016). Organizations should look forward to utilizing the information as a means of growth, rather than hide information that may affect the financial status of the company in the future. Various scholars have supported the use of transparent disclosures as stepping stones to better and socially responsible corporations with a healthy and developing environment in mind.
The voluntary environmental disclosure requirement expects companies to have excellent transparency in reporting data. Corporations have integrated the demand to their advantage, however, disregarding the actual purpose of the provision. The study shows that the relationship between the information reported does not contrast with the actual performance that most companies deliver in the annual disclosures (Sutantoputra, 2016). The height of exposure is influenced by the size of the firm, decision usefulness and the social and political expectations of the state. Regardless of the point of influence, the study has exhibited a high note of manipulation to the information provided in annual reports by different companies.
Instead, the study supports the use of environmental performance as a measure for better growth and development (Agency, 2016). The report suggests that companies should outlay their overall performance not ejecting any information. This will improve the level of transparency in the networking industries and accomplish the primary goal of environmental sustainability.
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