As long as corporate officers (and shareholders) get financially rewarded primarily for short term financial performance, the long term aspects of social and environmental performance will be given lukewarm support (at best).
As I delve deeper in the world of sustainability reporting and external assurance, I can not help but making the mental comparison with with the management system accredited certification process we have. With ALL the weaknesses and dysfunctions we have with accredited certification, at least some basic notions of conflict of interest exist.
In the business of sustainability reporting, there are very little in terms of rules and even less in terms of oversight.
I came across one recent example where a mainstream organization in the US Aviation Sector engaged with an outside firm to prepare their sustainability report, but also engaged with the same firm to issue an assurance statement about the report. In the accredited certification world would be the same as engaging with a consultant to develop a QMS and pay the consultant to issue a certificate that the QMS complies with ISO 9001.
As the article states, many organizations are not really doing anything to incorporate sustainability efforts in their business. And, some there are, are free to report as much or as little, as they see fit, and there is NO MANDATE for independent assurance of what is being reported. Until the pressure of sustainability investment indices
change the remuneration model for corporate officers, there is little hope.