30th CSEAR International Congress – Day 2

The second day begins with a very important and interesting talk by Daniela Senkl Integrated reporting – Cixousian Perspective.

The motivation for Daniela’s paper comes from the Earth Summit, 1992 where a great hope for the future was expressed. However, we are still facing the same issues today. Maurice Strong was the first director of the UN environmental and general secretary of the Earth Summit. Commenting on the environmental crises 20 years later, he says he is hopeful. Daniela asks whether current initiative of corporate social and environmental accounting are good enough to justify this hope.

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To answer the question, Daniela goes back to Christine Cooper’s 1992 paper that draws on Helen Cixous’ work. Helen Cixsou combines Lacan and Derrida, who discuss hierarchial, male-centric oppositions reflected in language in the following examples of binary opposition: culture/nature, father/mother, head/heart. In accounting these occurrences can be found as well: asset/liability, debit/credit.

Derrida criticises the notion in Western ideology that there exists a symbolic structuring that creates a phallogocentric symbolic order. This constructs a reality where the masculine is valued the femining. From the masculine hierarchy is born a phallic love of profit, that determines things such as worth, value, and purpose. Profit then subordinates everything else, including life itself.

We shouldn’t look for the perfect company report. Integrated reporting is a product of a dominant “phallogocentric symbolic order”, Daniela argues. Integrated reports maintain or even reinforces status quo and creates the illusion that we’re doing something. This provides an illusionary hope. We should encourage other different voices and help to empower the opponents. Feminist theory can empower the suppressed group, it is disruptive and offers an opportunity to experience our constraints and promote a balance between the feminine and masculine.

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The next talk by Stacy Chavez elicits many puns: Women and the Cannabis Industry: Encouraged by the Glass Ceiling or the Glass Cliff? 

Cannabis is not federally legal in the US, but states and the citizens can opt in or opt out of recreational marijuana use.  The cannabis market is an emerging industry with gray status, meaning it is quasi-legal. This paper focuses on the states of Orgeon and Washington. Sales of marijuana in the US have increased dramatically. However, there is a range of issues with cannabis legalisation.

Cannabis is cash-basis, thus constraining the access to a legitimate bank account, as banks do not want to be associated with this industry, rendering this sector very risky. Almost every organization confirmed it paid its employees in cash.

Of course, marijuana has a negative stigma. This paper works to eradicate this stigma and and promote the sector as legitimate. The cannabis industry is made up of 36%  women executives. Why are women widely represented? Firstly, the glass ceiling present in many other industries creates an invisible barrier, preventing women from reaching higher levels both in terms of salary and position that are equal to men. The second reason for women being highly represented in the cannabis industry, according to Stacy, is the glass cliff.  This is a recent metaphor that explains the challenges women in leadership positions. Women are more likely to be given leadership roles in times of crisis or uncertainty. Womena are often used as scape goats in case something goes wrong.

Some of the research questions in this paper are: what is driving women to move into the cannabis industry? In the case of Washingston state, the paper investigates licensees to see if men-led companies perform differently to those perfomed by women.

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Svetlana Sabefeld gives the next talk on her research concerning Adoption of Mandatory Sustainability Reporting in Practice in Sweden.

The adoption of the EU-directive in Sweden came in 2016 and the Swedish government decided to lower the size limit for companies. The rationale for this decision is that sustainability was already mandates for large state-owned companies. Since that, this regulation was adopted by listed companies. The Swedish government would like smaller companies to also adopt sustainability reporting: companies who have at least 250 employees would have to start reporting.

However, this directive still leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Adoption of regulations by companies in practice makes companies seek congruence with others to gain legitimacy.

What Sveta’s project aims to investigate is whether the new regulation leads to any change in reporting practice in organisations.

I cannot summarise all the findings here but the take home message would be that it can be seen that the new regulation results in processes in internal needs and physical changes as well as difficulties in interpreting the regulation and how this would play out in pratice.

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At the end of the day, I take a walk to West Sands with my new lovely friends. It is a beautiful evening and it’s an honour to get to know them and hear about their PhD projects, and their lives in Texas. We end up at the pub, which seems to be a long-time honoured CSEAR tradition!

 

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2 thoughts on “30th CSEAR International Congress – Day 2

    1. I don’t want to speak for Daniela, but I think that the message in her paper is that we need to be aware of how we use language, and how our reality is shaped by a particular dominant male-centric lens, which then influences (and impedes?) how disclosures are written and acted upon. How to turn this awareness into praxis is through disrupting and challenging current thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

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