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Title: From flexibility to specificity: practical lessons from comparing materiality in sustainability reports of the world's largest financial institutions

Authors: Liad Ortar

Addresses: The College of Law and Business, 26 Ben-Gurion St., Ramat-Gan, Israel

Abstract: 'Materiality' is a basic term used most frequently at the growing practices and discourses of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR), and is the focus of this research. It is a term that depicts the prioritisation process for information disclosure. The term is rooted in the financial accounting profession and just recently embraced by sustainability reporting professionals and incorporated in its guidelines and methodologies. In accounting, it directs the accountant to include in the periodic report any performance indicator that might influence the value or financial outcome of the company. In sustainability reporting, materiality entails a different and a more stakeholder's oriented process. In this article, I present a historical overview of the term 'materiality' and examine its current functional value in sustainability reporting. The examination is based on grounded theory and an analysis of a sample of non-financial reporting practices with regard to their actual use and presentation of materiality.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility; CSR; materiality; sustainability reporting; financial institutions; banking industry; banks; sustainable development; information disclosure; non-financial reporting.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCSSR.2016.077547

International Journal of Corporate Strategy and Social Responsibility, 2016 Vol.1 No.1, pp.44 - 64

Available online: 05 Jul 2016 *

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