A while back I wrote about some of the practices that finance departments follow to support sustainability strategy at their companies. (The blog post is here.) Just a couple of things to add today:
In case you missed it, a couple of years ago Jones Lang LaSalle sponsored a study (free registration required) of finance departments and their role in corporate sustainability. The study was more descriptive than prescriptive. One set of stats that stood out for me related to the role of the finance department in environmental reporting:
Only about one tenth of survey respondents say that finance is a leading contributor to these efforts at their companies. One quarter of respondents say that finance contributes little, if anything, to environmental reporting.
That’s especially interesting in light of the anecdote I will share in a moment.
Much more recently, the International Federation of Accountants released this past March a comprehensive (194 short pages) vision of the role that professional accounts can and should play to help companies integrate sustainability into their core. You can find the “framework” here. If you are browsing, consider pausing on the pages titled “Key Considerations for Professional Accountants” for the highlights.
One of the most helpful insights I’ve heard on this topic recently came from Richard Ellis, Group Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Alliance Boots, the UK-based health & beauty retailer and pharmaceutical wholesaler. Richard suggests that the finance department own the responsibility of collecting and reporting on environmental sustainability data. Given its expertise in managing and reporting on quantitatve data and credibility that finance departments generally have when it comes to presenting financial data, having finance be responsible for environmental data raises the profile and credibility of the measures of a company’s environmental performance. Richard and the finance director jointly present this non-financial informaiton to their board of directors.
That seems like an outstanding practice to me. At your company, who is responsible for collecting and reporting on non-financial sustainability information? Feel free to share your experience in a comment or an e-mail to me.