Sustainability – A key to Australian finance directors improving their organisation's CSR culture

Clare Burns, Luke Houghton, Heather Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Sustainability, as one of six (economic, ethical, social, stakeholder, sustainability, and discretionary) dimensions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is frequently espoused in large finance organisations' corporate reports. In this case study on finance board directors, conducted in the lead-up to the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (hereafter Commission), sustainability assumptions were not found to be a day-to-day consideration for the majority of directors. Directors' primary assumptions, their values-in-use, were finance first, followed by risk and defence. Finance, in terms of short-term profitability, was considered before all espoused values such as customer centricity, integrity, trustworthiness, and professionalism. Within the study there were a small number of directors who did prioritise sustainability, which they closely integrated with the economic (finance) dimension. The additional prioritisation of sustainability led to better integration of the other CSR dimensions and a reduced difference between what is said (espoused) and done. While other CSR and finance studies have focused on “how much”, this study provides unique insights into the “why” of the finance industry's values-in-use preceding the 2018 to 2019 Commission which exposed some of the “what” and “when” of director behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1164-1176
Number of pages13
JournalCorporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management
Issue number2
Early online date2 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


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