The inadequacy of financial reports for meeting the information needs of stakeholders has prompted companies to adopt non-financial communication systems (also called non-financial disclosure—NFD). Comparability of NFD is an issue as it allows making sense of the information. Nevertheless, while some argue that comparability is particularly difficult to pursue in practice on a general level, it can be achieved among companies belonging to the same industry. This study aims to understand whether, at the empirical level, the comparability of NFD is achieved and to what extent (macro, meso or micro). To achieve this aim, a text analysis of the NFD was performed. The object of analysis is represented by the NFD published by the listed companies belonging to the energy and banking industries, and that is part of the Dow Jones sustainability index. The main results are the following. First, there is a de facto comparability in terms of adopted standards, but not in terms of how the standards are applied. Second, the phenomenon of label creativity represents a relevant barrier. Third, although content standardization is lacking, common information dimensions in the reports seem to emerge. This appears to be an invitation to policymakers to transpose virtuous behavior and to implement the desired harmonization of jure.
Non-Financial Disclosure and Intra-Industry Comparability: A Macro, Meso and Micro Analysis / Cerioni, Eva; D'Andrea, Alessia; Giuliani, Marco; Marasca, Stefano. - In: SUSTAINABILITY. - ISSN 2071-1050. - ELETTRONICO. - 13:1177(2021), pp. 1-23. [10.3390/su13031177]