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Voluntary disclosure of corporate social responsibility by Belgian listed firms: a content analysis of annual reports


  • Everaert, Patricia

    () (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium)

  • Bouten, Lies

    () (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium)

  • Van Liedekerke, Luc

    () (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium)

  • De Moor, Lieven

    () (Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel (HUB), Belgium
    Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium)

  • Christiaens, Johan

    () (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium)


This paper examines the reporting practices of Belgian listed firms, in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Four research questions are addressed: (1) What CSR areas are disclosed in the annual report? (2) What is the extent of the CSR reporting for the different areas? (3) How is the CSR reporting performed (qualitative versus quantitative)? (4) Is there a link between the extent of reporting and industry, profitability or size of the company? Based on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Reporting Guidelines, we developed a coding structure. The annual reports of 111 firms listed on Euronext Brussels, were coded and analyzed. The results show that only 58% disclose on CSR topics. In terms of topics, almost 90% disclose on labour practices, 67% on environment issues, 55% on product responsibility and 56% on society. Only 5% disclose on human rights. In terms of the extent of reporting, measured as the number of words, labour practices is addressed most extensively (representing 40% of the CSR disclosure), followed by environmental issues (representing 31% of the CSR disclosure). Society and product responsibility are disclosed in a far less elaborate way (only 16, respectively 12% of the total CSR disclosure). Companies disclose almost exclusively in a verbal way. The extent of reporting is significantly different between industries. Utilities and banks are providing significantly more elaborate CSR reporting than the other categories. The extent of disclosure is significantly positively correlated with size and profitability of the firm.

Suggested Citation

  • Everaert, Patricia & Bouten, Lies & Van Liedekerke, Luc & De Moor, Lieven & Christiaens, Johan, 2007. "Voluntary disclosure of corporate social responsibility by Belgian listed firms: a content analysis of annual reports," Working Papers 2007/29, Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel, Faculteit Economie en Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:hub:wpecon:200729

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