In the last decade, political pressure from international organisms has contributed to the divulgation and the adoption of social accountability practices. Using an inductive method, this research examines the state of the art of best social reporting practices carried out by Italian listed companies, by scoring and assessing the different maturity levels in application of the principles required by the main reporting models mentioned and by exploring the indicators disclosed in corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports. We analyze CSR reporting by Italian companies making up the FTSE ECPI Leaders Index of the Italian Stock Exchange. The findings show an overall good level of disclosure. The data confirm the results of previous studies as they highlight the escalation in sustainability reporting: both the quantity and quality of sustainability information are increasing. However, the results may raise doubts that companies consider CSR as a ‘fashion’. In fact, one of the criticisms levelled against CSR is that information is self-gathered and self-reported. More mandatory rules may improve transparency; however these may compromise the CSR concept, so it is necessary to further investigate the findings. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.