1.1 Background to the Study
The need for corporate organizations to disclose in their annual report the social and environmental accounting information is increasingly becoming a topical issue globally. This need is even more apparent in the developed nations, unlike in developing countries where less attention is being given to social and environmental accounting issues. The emergence and increasing interest in social and environmental accounting disclosure reflects the increasing demand for transparency and accountability from corporate organization. This less attention might not be unconnected with the general notion that, an organization‟s primary objective is to maximize profit without taking into cognisance the effect of their activities in the society where they operate.
The traditional view of a „good‟ business manager or an entrepreneur in a capitalist society as opined by Idowu (2012) is that he is an individual capable of generating profits regardless of the effect of his actions on jobs, the environment and local, national and international communities, provided no law is broken in the course of these actions. So, the main concern here is about how efficient organizations are in terms of how much profit are made and how much dividends are paid. No serious attention is given to social and environmental accounting information in the annual reports.
Despite industrialization plays important role towards achieving meaningful economic development of a nation, it has been observed by Uwuigbe (2012) that economic development is associated with social and environmental related problems such as global warming, environmental degradation, accusation and counter accusations of unfair treatment of host communities and pollution among others. Therefore, it is imperative for firms to behave in a responsive manner to social and environmental issues parallel to economic issues. One of the ways of achieving that by the organizations is through increase in the level of disclosure on social and environmental accounting related issues in the annual reports over and above regulatory requirements.
The extent of disclosure of social and environmental accounting information in the annual reports at company level is determined according to two dimensions; the extent of social pressure that face each company and the strategy adopted by each company in curving this pressure Hassan (2010). He further posited that, the interaction between corporate characteristics and media coverage of the company determine the degree of social pressure facing a company, while corporate governance mechanisms determine how each company responses to such pressure. Generally, studies on determinants of corporate social and environmental disclosure have been primarily concerned with the influence of firm characteristics such as firm size, profitability, leverage and size of audit firms while little attention was given to corporate governance attributes which is considered as a good explanatory variable that might influence firms to voluntarily disclose social and environmental information in the annual reports (Susi, 2005; Echave & Bhati, 2010).