n Meditari : Research Journal of the School of Accounting Sciences - Corporate social responsibility assurance : how do South African publicly listed companies compare?

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1022-2529



As companies begin accounting for the triple bottom line, external corporate social responsibility (CSR) assurance provides stakeholders with assurance that CSR disclosures may be relied upon. In this way, companies may go some way towards avoiding their CSR efforts simply being perceived as greenwash or a public relations exercise. Several organisations currently provide this assurance, using different methodologies and standards. Using a content analysis, the annual and / or CSR reports of the top 100 South African publicly listed companies were investigated in respect of CSR assurance, and compared with international trends. Despite a slow response, the evidence suggests that CSR assurance prevalence is growing. It was found that despite its developing country status, the prevalence of CSR assurance by South African companies compared favourably with that of their counterparts in developed countries. In South Africa and the UK, the audit profession, led by the "Big 4" firms, is the dominant provider of CSR assurance. As the demand increases, the auditor's role as a CSR assurance provider is expected to become increasingly more important, especially in South Africa, where the audit profession is highly regarded. This increased demand for assurance services will require the global audit profession's paradigm to be re-examined to include competence in contextual accounting and auditing.

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