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Reporting within the Corridor of Conformance: Managerial Perspectives on Work Environment Disclosures in Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting

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posted on 2022-10-05, 18:12 authored by Shane M. Dixon, Cory Searcy, Patrick NeumannPatrick Neumann

This paper examines managerial perspectives on work environment (WE) disclosures in corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports. WE encompasses all aspects of the design and management of the work system that affect the employees’ interactions with the workplace. The data are drawn from interviews with 20 CSR managers in large companies that are recognized as high performers in CSR. Managers reported that WE disclosures were an important part of CSR reporting and had several benefits—for example, it helped to maintain companies’ reputations as good places to work, which were of interest to both investors and potential employees. However, WE reporting was at a low level, focusing predominantly on occupational health and safety performance indicators, such as the number of employee injuries per year. We suggest that organizations derive legitimacy by reporting WE disclosures within a corridor of conformance that permits a low level of reporting and a great deal of latitude regarding what topics and how topics are disclosed, provided organizations meet institutional expectations. The corridor is maintained by an institutional environment in which, from participants’ perspectives, few external stakeholders were interested in WE disclosures representing employee well-being (e.g., psychological health) and the prevailing CSR reporting standards and guidelines provide scant information about employee health.

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