Blog

24 April 2019

7 ways accountants can help companies get more sustainable By Vita Ramanauskaité and Eleni Kanelli

We already see the consequences global temperatures rising 1 degree: extreme weather events, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice. Businesses are instrumental to secure our planet’s survival. This blog sets out how accountants can help them transition towards a long-term sustainable strategy.

Businesses can no longer prefer short-term wins over following a sustainable strategy, especially as EU policymakers have started an ambitious legislative push towards a more sustainable economy. Read more on what accountants have to do with the EU agenda in the first blog of our sustainable finance series.

If businesses want to keep thriving, they need to adapt their strategies towards long term success in financial and non-financial terms. They need to identify where they create or destroy value and adapt their strategies accordingly.

Accountants can be a strategic partner for companies’ transition towards a more sustainable future. Read more on how accountants measure corporate environmental footprint, disclose those results and add credibility so those results are reliable in our second sustainable finance blog.

But how can companies benefit from these skills in practice? Here are 7 ways accountants can deliver on helping companies get more sustainable:

1. Provide better corporate information

Accountants can help improve how a company communicates with its stakeholders by innovating how it reports, for example by using the integrated reporting <IR> framework. Reporting should disclose relevant financial and non-financial information (such as on environmental, social and governance matters (ESG)), Accountancy Europe has explored the future of corporate reporting and promotes presenting corporate information via a Core & More approach. This involves focusing on what really matters and linking financial and non-financial information in corporate reports.

2. Provide independent assurance

Independent assurance is key to ensure if information is trustworthy – and thus to prevent greenwashing. Accountants have the skills to audit companies independently and provide assurance on their sustainability processes. Accountants report on the organisation’s material weaknesses and offer insights on long-term business implications. They enhance the organisation’s internal decision-making process and hence its ability to achieve sustainability objectives.

3. Assign costs to negative impacts on the environment and society

Accountants can help assessing the real cost that corporate activities generate. For example, smartphones can be extremely polluting, and fast fashion can result in human rights violations in the production process: these impacts come at a cost to society and need to be transparent.

4. Encourage ESG goals

Accountants can help businesses embed sustainability throughout, from formulating strategy to improving processes and measuring performance. And accountants need to comply with international standards for their ethical behaviour, including integrity, objectivity, and professional competence and due care.

5. Help businesses implement ESG regulations

Accountants can help comply with existing laws and prepare for upcoming legislation. The EU and national legislators require businesses to consider ESG factors more. Accountants offer strategic advice on these obligations and provide roadmaps to help companies, especially SMEs, adapt.

6. Perform on-the-ground monitoring and measuring

Accountants can support the company with improve business processes and ensure that companies take a long-term view with the business choices that they make. This includes evaluating or auditing processes and ensuring that companies avoid short termism.

7. Identify ways to reward sustainable policies

Accountants can ensure that a company gains benefits from its sustainable practices by enhancing employee retention, customer satisfaction, aligning remuneration on sustainability targets or applying for funding and subsidies that help companies become more sustainable.

 

 

Related content

NewsCall to action in response to climate change

6 March 2020

Publication10 ideas to make corporate governance a driver of a sustainable economy

12 June 2019

BlogRadical change to fight our environmental crisis

22 February 2019

BlogLooking back, moving forward: our sustainable future starts today

16 January 2019

BlogSustainable finance: what’s it got to do with accountants?

10 October 2018

EventEarly Warning Europe SME summit

13 July 2021

EventWorking Together for the planet: Audit & Assurance of sustainability Information

29 April 2021

EventFuture of tax: green, digital, fair

15 April 2021

EventBridging expectations: what NFI from SMEs?

18 March 2021

PublicationCall for contributions: sustainable tax systems

5 March 2021

PodcastGet your seat at the top table

5 March 2021

NewsBecause green recovery counts

4 March 2021

NewsVAT Talks: digitalisation, accountants’ role and the growing importance of tax

2 March 2021

UpdateSustainable Finance

22 February 2021

PodcastWithout human capital, there is no capital

19 February 2021

Consultation responseEC’s Consultation document proposal for an initiative on sustainable corporate governance

8 February 2021

EventSustainable corporate governance: future role for audit committees

5 February 2021

PublicationGoing concern: recommendations to strengthen the financial reporting ecosystem

3 February 2021

PublicationFraud: recommendations to strengthen the financial reporting ecosystem

3 February 2021

PublicationSME risk management: insolvency

1 February 2021

UpdateSustainable Finance

25 January 2021

Consultation responseEFRAG’s Project Task Force on Non-financial reporting standards outreach document

25 January 2021

PublicationEuropean Single Electronic Format (ESEF) – collected guidance

25 January 2021

Podcast Time to build back better corporate governance

22 January 2021

NewsReflections for the profession with respect to the disclosure and reporting of non-financial information

19 January 2021

Sign up for our newsletter

* indicates required
Would you like to subscribe to our newsletter?
On which topics would you like to receive news?