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Corporate Social Responsibility of the Financial Sector – Strengths, Weaknesses and the Impact on Sustainable Development



This study analyses the performance of the financial sector with respect to corporate social responsibility and sustainability. Because this sector has a strong influence economically and on sustainable development, both risk management issues and stakeholder pressure drive the financial sector into a more sustainable direction. In contrast to polluting sectors, the financial sector does not affect the environment and society by direct emissions or the use of resources like other industries. To compare the financial sector with other sectors regarding their sustainability performance, we analyzed the performance in the fields of sustainability reporting, business ethics and product responsibility, labor issues, environmental performance, community issues, and corporate governance. The study is based on more than 1800 firms including 400 organizations from the financial sector. We link CSR to sustainability and define it as corporate self-regulation in order to manage sustainability risks and opportunities. The results suggest that financial sector performance is relatively low regarding corporate social responsibility (CSR) in general. Weaknesses of the financial sector with regard to CSR are reporting, business ethics and product responsibility, and labor issues. Strengths of the financial sector regarding CSR can be located with respect to community relations. Further research is needed with respect to the factors influencing CSR performance. It is still not clear what influences regulations, stakeholder pressure or potential financial benefits have on sustainability performance in the financial sector. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

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