Journal article

Board diversity and CSR reporting: an Australian study

15 May 2016

The quantitative analysis involving a longitudinal study is used where content analysis is undertaken to analyse the extent of CSR disclosures in annual reports. Regression analysis using panel data is used to analyse the potential association between CSR disclosure and five important board diversity measures, specifically independence, tenure, gender, multiple directorships and overall diversity measure.

The results based on the regression analysis reveal that three of the board diversity attributes (gender, tenure and multiple directorships) and the overall diversity measure have the potential to influence CSR reporting. The relationship between independent/non-executive directors and CSR disclosure however is unclear. In addition, three of the control variables (firm size, industry and CEO duality) are found to have some influence on CSR disclosure, whereas board size and profitability are found to be insignificant. The results also indicate the existence of some possible interaction effects between gender and multiple directorships.

The paper has implications for companies, for policymakers and for the professional development needs of board members. Australian companies should consider identifying board attributes that enhance CSR disclosures, as it has been shown in previous studies that CSR disclosure in Australia is low when compared to other developed countries. Moreover, given that there is such limited research linking board diversity and CSR disclosure, the results of this paper provide scope for further research. Moreover the paper contributes to the existing literature on board composition and CSR disclosure by extending the literature to board diversity and provides preliminary evidence of the influence of board diversity on CSR disclosure in Australia.

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