Social reporting has become a standard practice for most big firms. But is it actually improving social and environmental performance?

Social reporting is no longer in its infancy. Now the domain of large accountancy firms, it has been taken-up by both the blues” and the greens”: large blue-chip companies and those in the ethical, value-based sectors now commonly issue a social report. The practice has its own professional standard, accreditation system for practitioners, and even its own annual award.

But this report finds that all is not rosy. Corporate social reporting may appear to have taken off, but it hasn’t actually grown up. The number of reports issued in 1999/​2000 represents a tiny fraction of companies overall – The New Economics Foundation estimates less than one per cent of all listed companies on either the New York or London Stock Exchanges report on social performance.

The report recommends key actions to improve social reporting.