This paper examines the status of sustainability reporting in Portugal. The Global Reporting Initiative's (GRI) guidelines for sustainability reporting is an initiative that attempts to create a paradigm of triple bottom line reporting that encompasses the economic, environmental, and social performance of business. Measurement and reporting of environmental and social aspects are in their infancy compared to financial/economic reporting. The objective of the GRI's framework is to elevate environmental and social reporting to the level of financial reporting by developing reporting principles and information qualities similar to those used in corporate financial reporting. In the post-Enron corporate reporting environment, such credibility may be tarnished and lead stakeholders to suspect corporations of greenwashing their reputations by issuing reports that are environmental window dressing. Currently 860 companies in a variety of industries worldwide are voluntarily listed as using the guidelines on the GRI's web site; however, only five are from Portugal. Two of the five companies are GRI organizational stakeholders and one is listed as reporting 'in accordance' with the guidelines. Content analysis will be used to examine both the quantity and quality of information in the GRI reports of Portuguese companies. An additional issue regarding the transparency and credibility of the information provided is whether the reports have been verified (a more generic term than audit used for a similar assurance-type service relative to GRI Reports). The results of the content analysis will be used to shed some light on whether the companies generating these reports are bridging or widening the sustainability reporting expectations gap between companies and stakeholders.
Diane H. Roberts, John P. Koeplin. Sustainability Reporting Practices In Portugal: Greenwashing Or Triple Bottom Line? International Business & Economics Research Journal – September 2007 Volume 6, Number 9.