The corporate social responsibility of accounting firms: the development of sustainability service lines

Angus Duff, Xin Guo

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This study: (i) explores the scope of sustainability services provided by accounting firms; (ii) identifies accounting firms’ motivations for developing sustainability service lines; (iii) assesses the future of sustainability assurance and advisory work; and (iv) discusses the challenge sustainability offers to the accounting profession and accounting firms. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 key individuals in four leading accounting firms. The main findings are:
1. Climate change/carbon services (ie, advising how clients can adapt to a low
carbon economy) are most important to firms at present. The ability to develop
and integrate broader sustainability issues into core offerings in the future will
be important to ensuring firms remain credible and successful as providers of
professional services in the carbon arena.
2. A clear view exists among accounting firms that the accounting profession has a public interest role in promoting the debate and supporting the development of sustainability reporting and assurance standards.
3. Sustainability service lines are motivated by: (i) economic opportunity; (ii)
securing the best talent, where graduates and experienced hires expect to work
for responsible employers who lead in the sustainability arena; and (iii) a desire to capitalise on a changing and consolidating market place.
4. There are significant links between the accounting firms’ internal sustainability policies and the sustainability services they provide for clients.
5. There is an increasing need for accountants to acquire sustainability knowledge and skills to be capable of advising on both financial and non-financial matters.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)978-0-85760-290-9
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Accounting
  • Sustainability service lines


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