Accounting for Human Rights Violations Risk: Conflict Minerals Mandatory Disclosures under the Dodd Frank Act
This paper examines the equity market response to firms’ disclosure of human rights violation risk with regard to conflict mineral usage as required by Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act (the Act). This paper assesses the aggregate equity market response to regulatory events leading to the passage of the Act, the equity market reaction to voluntary early disclosures and mandatory disclosures of conflict mineral information in Form SD, as well as the determinants of the equity market response. Using a sample of 4,399 US registrants from January 1, 2008 to September 30, 2014, we document a significant negative stock market reaction to the passage of the Act and to conflict minerals disclosures on Form SD. The equity market reaction is more negative and limited to companies that source their minerals from conflict zones, companies with human rights violations, and companies with ambiguous disclosures. Taken together, the results of this study provide an economic justification for companies with poor conflict minerals practices to improve in order to avoid high costs that will arise if firms are forced to disclose human rights abuses. This paper also provides preliminary evidence that Form SD is successful in reducing the governance gap that exposes investors to unnecessary sanction, litigation and reputation risk from firms’ activities in conflict minerals usage.