Copyright (c) 2003 Cornell University
Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy
NOTE: CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY: ACHIEVING INTERNAL SELF-GOVERNANCE THROUGH SUSTAINABILITY REPORTS
13 Cornell J. L. & Pub. Pol'y 503
Sonia Gioseffi +
Recent financial scandals, as well as public reaction to social and environmental impacts of corporate activity, have increased pressure for corporate accountability. In response to the pressure for socially accountable behavior, consumers have seen a growth of companies that advertise social responsibility and include socially responsible behavior in their mission statements. 1 But regulation is necessary to ensure that conduct matches a company's statements. Due to the inability of the U.S. Legislature and the international community to create a comprehensive mechanism to regulate and enforce corporate behavior, corporations and nongovernmental organizations ("NGOs") have responded to pressure for greater accountability by developing private codes of conduct to internally regulate corporate activity. Initially, U.S. companies adopted voluntary codes of conduct as a self-regulatory mechanism to avoid antitrust prosecution in the 1960s. 2 Today, pressure on corporate accountability extends beyond antitrust issues and includes behavior relating to financial, environmental, and social issues.
To operate efficiently, to maintain a positive public image, and to avoid civil and criminal liability, companies need to understand and respond to pressure for greater transparency. 3 Adopting sustainability reports may be a way for companies to meet these demands. Sustainable is a popular buzzword that lacks a structured definition, but includes the integration of social, environmental, and economic factors to obtain a long-term solution that addresses these factors. Sustainability reports look at the social, economic, and environmental aspects of a company's operations to determine if a company can operate with long-term viability while ...
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