Sustainability practices and reporting by the South African banking sector
Sustainability reporting based on the GRI guidelines is a relatively new global concept. The principle of the triple bottom line reporting which is recommended by the King III Code of Corporate Governance is the basic premise of the GRI guidelines. However, the guidelines are applied on a voluntary basis and there is still no prescribed standard format of a sustainability report. The banking sector is one of the key players in the country’s economy and this study focused mainly on sustainability reporting within the SA’s banking sector. The main purpose was to determine whether there is comparability of reporting within the sector. In order to attain this, a qualitative study which comprised content analysis of the sustainability reports of the banks was conducted. Sustainability reports of seven banks (five South African banks and two foreign banks) were studied and analysed. The study revealed that the banks’ sustainability reports vary significantly in content. This is due to the fact that the GRI guidelines provide a broad choice of indicators. Banks have a choice on what they report on. There needs to be standardization of sustainability reporting within the sector in order for comparability of the reports to be attained.