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Sustainability Risk Disclosure Practices of Listed Companies in Australia

Abstract This paper investigates the extent to which the top 100 ASX listed companies disclosed economic, environmental and social sustainability risk factors during the 2014/15 financial year in light of the changes introducing Recommendation 7.4 to the third edition of the Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations in 2014. While all companies complied with the Recommendation, questions of substance over form were raised because some companies had risks that were not disclosed according to Recommendation 7.4. Our conclusion outlines how this research contributes to the growing literature on sustainability and corporate governance. We add to the continuing debate on mandatory versus voluntary disclosures, advocating that Australia may need to introduce mandatory guidelines, beyond the ASX, to regulate the disclosure of material economic, environmental and social risks. Additionally, we conclude that Recommendation 7.4 is unlikely to substantially change Australian corporate reporting and disclosure practices – that, for most companies, it is ‘business as usual’. However, under business as usual, we can naturally expect to see further increases in sustainability and alternative reporting frameworks, such as integrated reporting, as well as increasing use of the Internet to report and disclose sustainability risks.

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