Human rights reporting under increasing institutional pressure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In 2014, the European Union (EU) passed Directive 2014/95/EU (The Directive), requiring Public Interest Entities (PIEs) to disclose specific non-financial information in their annual reports. This study investigates how The Directive influenced sustainability reporting— in particular human rights disclosure—by taking an institutional perspective. This implies that we refrain from viewing The Directive as an isolated event, but rather as a consequence of the ongoing interaction of different forces within the institutional context. Starting from this view, we investigate how human rights disclosure has developed over the years, focussing on the institutional context in which these developments took place. We use a longitudinal research design, using content analysis to observe human rights disclosure in annual and sustainability reports during the 2002–2018 period of the Dutch financial services companies listed on the three most important Dutch stock market indexes. We find that there appears to be an increase in the extensiveness of human rights reporting after the introduction of The Directive, but that these changes in disclosure are better explained by the increasing trend over time than by The Directive itself. Our analysis of 17 years of annual reporting shows a steady linear increase in the extensiveness of
human rights disclosure, with no strong deviations during the introduction of The Directive. Notwithstanding an overall increase over the years, the proportion of human rights information in both annual and sustainability reports remains fairly low.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-312
Number of pages10
JournalMaandblad voor Accountancy en Bedrijfseconomie
Issue number7/8
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2020


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