The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) has, over the long term, demonstrated its commitment to promoting sustainability amongst its listed companies. This is unsurprising given the exchange’s operating environment. First, companies operating in emerging economies cannot focus simply on the single (financial) bottom line. Issues of stakeholder engagement, community development and due regard for environmental considerations are a core part of their license to operate. This is not to suggest that companies always conduct themselves admirably, but the issues are not new.

Second, successive iterations of the King Code of Corporate Governance (King Code) have served as the framework for company directors in thinking about their – increasingly broadly defined – governance responsibilities.  The first King Code was published in 1994, and the latest version (King III) in 2009. King III expanded the focus on sustainability that was introduced in King II, together with a recommendation that companies produce integrated reports.  King IV is currently under development.

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