The 2030 United Nations (UN) Agenda for Sustainable Development has posed unprecedented challenges to businesses to integrate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) concerns into their core operations and strategies and improve their transparency on SDG commitment toward investors and other stakeholders. However, prior studies have questioned the significance of firms' SDG disclosure practices, evidencing their inadequacy. Nevertheless, despite the burgeoning SDG disclosure literature, the extent to which SDG disclosure effectively reflects corporate sustainability performance is still unclear. Accordingly, using data from a large panel data set comprising 635 companies from 45 world countries and 8 industry sectors over the period 2016–2020, this study investigates the relationship between corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance and sustainable development goals (SDGs) disclosure. Voluntary SDG disclosure has been measured using a disclosure index based on each company's response to the uniform and well‐designed communication on progress (CoP) questionnaire drafted annually by business participants in the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). Several panel Tobit regressions have been estimated to examine whether the level of SDG disclosure retrieved from the CoPs reflects underlying corporate sustainability performance measured by total and individual ESG scores provided by the Refinitiv Eikon database. The study's findings provide robust empirical evidence that sustainability performance positively affects SDG disclosure, especially through environmental and social channels. Therefore, in line with the voluntary disclosure theory's arguments, this study highlights that superior sustainability performers provide more SDG disclosure to prove their high performance and distinguish themselves in the eyes of investors and other stakeholders.

Does SDG disclosure reflect corporate underlying sustainability performance? Evidence from UN Global Compact participants

Nicolo', Giuseppe
;
2023-01-01

Abstract

The 2030 United Nations (UN) Agenda for Sustainable Development has posed unprecedented challenges to businesses to integrate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) concerns into their core operations and strategies and improve their transparency on SDG commitment toward investors and other stakeholders. However, prior studies have questioned the significance of firms' SDG disclosure practices, evidencing their inadequacy. Nevertheless, despite the burgeoning SDG disclosure literature, the extent to which SDG disclosure effectively reflects corporate sustainability performance is still unclear. Accordingly, using data from a large panel data set comprising 635 companies from 45 world countries and 8 industry sectors over the period 2016–2020, this study investigates the relationship between corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance and sustainable development goals (SDGs) disclosure. Voluntary SDG disclosure has been measured using a disclosure index based on each company's response to the uniform and well‐designed communication on progress (CoP) questionnaire drafted annually by business participants in the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). Several panel Tobit regressions have been estimated to examine whether the level of SDG disclosure retrieved from the CoPs reflects underlying corporate sustainability performance measured by total and individual ESG scores provided by the Refinitiv Eikon database. The study's findings provide robust empirical evidence that sustainability performance positively affects SDG disclosure, especially through environmental and social channels. Therefore, in line with the voluntary disclosure theory's arguments, this study highlights that superior sustainability performers provide more SDG disclosure to prove their high performance and distinguish themselves in the eyes of investors and other stakeholders.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4849171
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