The Effect of Board Independence on the Sustainability Reporting Practices of Large U.S. Firms \

David N. Herda, Martin E. Taylor, Glyn Winterbotham


As sustainability reporting becomes more commonplace, it is important to understand the factors that influence firms’ voluntary reporting decisions. This exploratory study examines whether board independence affects the sustainability reporting decisions of the 500 largest firms in the United States. We also investigate other factors that may be associated with sustainability reporting, including environmental performance and reputation. We find that
firms with a greater proportion of independent board members are: 1) more likely to publish standalone sustainability reports, and 2) more likely to publish higher quality sustainability reports. This paper contributes to prior literature that reports somewhat mixed results on the effect of board independence on voluntary disclosure.


Sustainability reporting, corporate governance, voluntary disclosure, board independence, environmental performance.

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