Sustainability reporting in European cooperative Banks: an exploratory analysis

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Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales. Escuela de Estudios Cooperativos
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Cooperative banks, as a social economy institution, have a special relationship with sustainability. Given the lack of previous studies, we aim to develop an exploratory analysis on sustainability reporting in European cooperative banks. On one hand, we studied the sustainability reporting evolution to know whether the crisis influenced on this practice. On the other hand, we compared cooperative reports with banks' reports. Moreover, we analysed the sustainability reports content to know what information is disclosed by cooperative banks. The results show that although the number of cooperative banks' reports is low, it responds to the weight in the European market. They also illustrate the late incorporation of cooperative banks into sustainability reporting (consequence of their conservative nature). We cannot conclude that differences between banks and cooperative banks were significant, but -in relation to private banks- cooperatives stand out in the use of latest standards, integrated reporting and best application levels. Regarding to the content of sustainability reports, cooperative banks provide more social issues than economic or environmental issues. In the current situation, disclosing information about sustainability would help to reinforce the stakeholders' trust.
Durante la última década, la relevancia de la sostenibilidad ha crecido dentro del mundo empresarial, teniendo las cooperativas de crédito una especial relación con este concepto. Esta relación puede representar un valioso activo para el desarrollo de los negocios, sólo si son capaces de proporcionar una mayor credibilidad y confianza en la sociedad, y si hay un diálogo efectivo con los grupos de interés. El análisis de los informes de sostenibilidad de las cooperativas de crédito europeas, incluidos en GRI, muestra que, aunque el número de informes es bajo, se corresponde con su peso en el mercado. Los resultados también indican la tardía incorporación de las cooperativas de crédito a divulgar información sobre sostenibilidad, aunque -a pesar de ello- no se encuentran diferencias significativas respecto a los bancos. Finalmente, cabe señalar que las cooperativas de crédito se caracterizan por divulgar más información social que económica o ambiental.
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