Companies have exhibited growing interest in sustainability rhetoric in recent years. The process of assessing sustainability rhetoric is hindered by difficulties in understanding whether a company’s commitment towards sustainability is ‘real’, or if it consists of ‘empty words’ that hide opportunistic strategies. Our paper contributes to this debate, proposing a methodological approach that is based on a company’s business model (BM) representation. Since social and environmental performance are considered important to the long-term success of a business, it is expected that an engaged company integrates sustainability into its value creation process. The same company will take advantage of the BM representation to communicate its real commitment to external users. Compared to previous methodological studies, our analytical method assesses engagement levels separately for each sustainability issue. From an operative viewpoint, our proposal is addressed to regulators and standard setters who are involved in the regulation of sustainability disclosure. Our illustrative example—the UK mining industry—suggests that companies use strategic rhetoric to address sustainability issues, especially issues that pertain waste, corruption, lobbying, and labour conditions. Moreover, we found that effective sustainability rhetoric focuses on infrastructural aspects of the mining business, while other BM pillars are almost completely ignored.
Key-Words: Financial Reporting, Corporate reporting, Discursive logical argument, Business model, CorporateSocial Responsibility, Rhetoric, Narrative disclosure