Niamh O’Sullivan

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Post-doctoral researcher and lecturer
Sustainalytics “new”

Definition of Responsible Investment Banking
Identifying the direct and indirect impacts of investment and banking operations; actively addressing those impacts; and reporting upon how they have been addressed to those who have a right to that information.

Areas if Expertise
Social accountability and the finance sector; Equator Principles; responsible investment; sustainability reporting and assurance; corporate social responsibility.

Curriculum Vitae
Before starting her PhD in 2005 in the accounting section of The University of Amsterdam Business School (UvA ABS), Niamh spent four and a half years with the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) in Geneva, Switzerland. Here, she acted as project manager for the UNEP FI African Task Force (ATF), and the UNEP FI- GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) Financial Services Sector Supplement Working Group.

Niamh’s PhD research adopted a qualitative approach and focused on the institutionalisation and social accountability dynamics surrounding the Equator Principles (EP) between 2003 and 2008. Defended in 2010, Niamh’s PhD was awarded Cum Laude and also won the 2010 Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award in the Interdisciplinary Accounting Research Category.

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Niamh’s first co-authored paper from her PhD was published in Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal (AAAJ) in 2009, and focused on NGO perspectives on the legitimation dynamics associated with the EP. This won the French Social Investment Forum (SIF) Best Published Article Award 2010; and received a High Commendation in AAAJ s Mary Parker Follett Outstanding Paper Award for 2009. Niamh’s additional papers on the EP focus on a range of institutional, organisational and societal change processes associated with the EP since 2003.

Whilst Niamh’s primary research interests lie in the broad field of sustainable finance, her broader research and teaching interests and experience span a wide range of corporate social responsibility topics including: social and environmental accountability; sustainability reporting and assurance; corporate-stakeholder relationships; ethics and accounting; and NGO accountability. During her post-doctorate, Niamh has acted as co-ordinator and lecturer for MSc level, MBA and Executive Programme courses on the same.

This chapter will examine the progression of financial sector social accountability since the late 1990s. In particular, it explores the role of the Global Reporting Initiative Financial Services Sector Supplement, as well as the external assurance of financial sector sustainability reports; in the evolution of investment bank social accountability. Specific attention is paid to the perceived effectiveness of the GRI guidelines and external assurance mechanisms to ensure the consistency and quality of environmental, social and governance disclosures across banks; and hence whether these tools have enhanced investment bank social accountability to date.

International academic, professional and inter-governmental parties working in the broad fields of corporate social responsibility and sustainable finance.

Hobbies & Social Engagement
Yoga, tango dancing, music, hiking, travelling, cinema, drama.