The relationship between responsibilities and accounts To explore some of the above issues…
The relationship between responsibilities and accounts To explore some of the above issues further, we now consider whether the managers of an organisation should collect and disclose information about:
• the organisation’s carbon emissions
• its water use
• its employment of staff with physical or intellectual disabilities
• the workplace health and safety policies of companies that supply significant amounts of products or services to the organisation
• the use of renewable energy by the organisation.
Further, when you are considering the above questions, do you think other readers of this book, such as other people in your class, might have the same opinions as you, and if not, why do you think their opinions might be different? In addressing the above points, something that needs to be emphasised is that the responsibilities and accountabilities we accept – and therefore the accounts that we will create and possibly make publicly available – will be influenced by our own views, such that different people have different opinions. Given ongoing concerns about climate change and the focus of the community on efforts undertaken by organisations to reduce their contribution to the problem, then disclosures about carbon emissions and the use of renewable energy would seem very reasonable. Further, in some areas there is not an abundance of water. If this is the case in respect of an organisation’s operations, then it would seem appropriate to make information available about water use, including the initiatives being embraced to reduce it. Providing information about the workplace health and safety practices of companies within a supply chain, as well as the organisation’s employment practices as they relate to people with disabilities, would also seem to be a reasonable expectation – but again, this is a matter of judgement. Many companies – particularly those with suppliers in developing countries – do provide information about various employee-related health and safety issues, but there are also many companies that do not. It is likely that different people within your class will have different opinions about whether managers have a responsibility to disclose the above information, and this is why accounting can be a very interesting and challenging practice. People can disagree as to what accounts should be prepared because they hold different opinions about the responsibilities that organisations should accept. As we have already briefly explained, different perspectives about corporate responsibilities could be due to a variety of factors, such as the different social, cultural and educational backgrounds we all have.