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The purpose of this paper is to shed light an important limit of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) in pursuit of its substantial purpose, which is to achieve sustainability and contribute to achieving the objectives of United Nation (UN) Agenda 2030; the paper also suggests how to overcome those limits.Design/methodology/approachThe study used a survey of board members of listed and un-listed Italian companies. Data were analysed using an ordered probit model.FindingsThe results show that a greater involvement of a board member in the non-financial reporting process is associated with a stronger commitment towards sustainable development. Specifically, the involvement in materiality assessment is positively associated with more proactive behaviours towards sustainability.Research limitations/implicationsThe use of self-reported assessments on beliefs and behaviours and the application of an online survey are methodology limitations of the study. Regarding theory, the study contributes to the literature on corporate governance and sustainability, integrating upper echelons theory, which focuses on how individual attributes influence a firm's strategies and governance, with research on how leadership practices can have a positive impact on corporate sustainability goals.Practical implicationsThe paper underscores the opportunity for policymakers to increase the effectiveness of the NFRD through deeper involvement of the board members in the process of non-financial reporting. The results could also be of interest to governance bodies in terms of defining a board's tasks and practices to encourage the adoption of behaviours oriented towards a stronger engagement in sustainable issues.Originality/valueThis is the first study to provide evidence of the relationship between individual directors' tasks and behaviours, non-financial reporting and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This study highlights some of the limits of the NFRD, even after the public consultation to revise it, and suggests how to overcome these limits.
Journal of Applied Accounting Research – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 1, 2022
Keywords: Revising the non-financial reporting directive; Non-financial information; Board member; Directors' engagement; Leadership practices; Sustainable development goals
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