William Baue reports: Surveying the top 250 companies in the Fortune 500, the percentage rises to almost two thirds when considering annual financial reports that address corporate responsibility. SocialFunds.com reports, KPMG released its 2005 International Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting. Later in the week, the Big Four accounting firm released a statement that it "takes full responsibility for the unlawful conduct by former KPMG partners" in selling illegal tax shelters from 1996 through 2002, as revealed by a US Justice Department investigation. "[W]e deeply regret that it occurred," the statement continued.

One interpretation of the link between these two releases is that KPMG is being hypocritical, examining corporate responsibility (CR) while acting irresponsibly itself. Another interpretation is that corporate responsibility reporting is not a testament of ethical purity, but rather the practice of disclosing and taking accountability for positive and negative corporate social responsibility (CSR) or sustainability performance.

Given that this is KPMG's fifth such survey since 1993 (the last iteration was in 2002), only the most jaundiced observer would consider the firm's Global Sustainability Services division too tainted to produce a worthwhile report. Adding to the reliability of the report is the fact that University of Amsterdam Professors Ans Kolk, Mark van der Veen, Jonatan Pinkse, and Fabienne Fortanier helped conduct the survey.


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