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Appearance or substance of Stewardship and ESG reporting: the challenges of translating ‘commitment’ into tangible outcomes

Tilba, Anna (2022) 'Appearance or substance of Stewardship and ESG reporting: the challenges of translating ‘commitment’ into tangible outcomes.', Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal .


Purpose – This paper examines the stewardship practices of BlackRock, one of the world’s biggest index managers, in order to highlight a tension and contradictions associated with demonstrating sustainability leadership and its actual substance. Design/methodology/approach – To support its argument, this paper draws on the author’s longstanding industry and academic experience, existing academic evidence and documentary analysis. Findings – The paper reveals conflicting data, highlighting a tension between BlackRock’s commitment to ESG in its public statements and translating this commitment into tangible outcomes through voting, ESG investments and stewardship reporting, which seem to be more assumed than demonstrated. Research limitations/implications – This viewpoint is based on a review of existing evidence. It offers some critique on current stewardship reporting practices, which has implications for management and policy makers. It identifies areas for future research in the area of stewardship and ESG reporting. Policy implications – The paper highlights the need for a more critical interrogation of investor stewardship and ESG reporting and a more joined up policy and regulatory approach to stewardship and sustainability reporting. Social Implications: - Improving stewardship practices of asset managers will help enhance the social value created by the financial services sector. Originality/value – In drawing on personal experience and existing literature, the originality lies in the combination of arguments brought together to highlight the challenges of making sense of the conflicting ESG reporting data to see how this may impact policies, regulation and future practices in the area of sustainability and ESG reporting.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0.
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Publisher statement:This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:23 May 2022
Date of first online publication:13 July 2022
Date first made open access:27 July 2022

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