From Accountant to Sustainability Manager

Mon, 2012-08-20 12:23

Researchers from the University of Waikato in New Zealand have announced that certified sustainability managers are necessary in order for companies to achieve the best sustainability outcomes.

A 2010 survey of managing directors, accountants, and sustainability managers found that there are clear business benefits to having a sustainability strategy and that often times, accountants make up only a small minority of the leadership roles involved in strategy setting.

University of Waikato researchers suggest that management accountants are actually one of the best roles for transitioning into sustainability management and for implementing a sustainability strategy.

The Benefits

The results of the 2010 survey indicate that members of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) are three times more likely to be involved in setting sustainability strategies when compared to other accountancy membership bodies. However, the number of accountants overall in this role is only 12% when compared to other job titles such as managing director, environmental, human resources, and marketing manager.

The creators of the survey developed their hypothesis on management accounting based on the economic gains to be made from reducing costs. Much of a corporate sustainability strategy is reliant on accurate reporting of facts. One such example is a company’s expense comparison from year to year. Typically an accountant has access to these facts and figures. These individuals are well-suited to collect and analyze data prior to implementing corporate changes in regard to sustainability.

The Challenges

One challenge that has been identified for accountants wanting to become sustainability managers is that companies with sustainability strategies are looking to create “integrated” reports - that is, the act of combining non-financial and financial data to create a comprehensive outlook on sustainability. Accountants may have trouble with this task, as non-financial data is typically difficult to report and prove. This could be one of the reasons why many accountants are still not involved in the collaboration of setting sustainability goals.

Sandra Rapacioli, the head of sustainability for CIMA, said, “It is vital for organizations to employ finance professionals who can provide the best strategy for long-term sustainable success. Management accountants, including CIMA members, are ideally placed to do this as they are trained to analyze business performance, assess future risks, and contribute to long-term business strategy.”

Join The Movement

At Everblue, we believe sustainability is everybody’s responsibility. We want to help educate individuals from all backgrounds on what they can do to contribute to a more sustainable environment and workforce.

Upon completion of our ISSP Sustainability Associate training, an individual will be qualified to perform work as a certified Sustainability Manager. Regardless of your occupational background, Everblue will help you navigate the regulatory requirements that affect a business’s future. We will teach you how to evaluate costs, conduct a carbon footprint assessment, develop a communications plan for your coworkers, implement sustainable business practices, and measure success and benefits.

To learn more about Everblue’s sustainability training, and how you can transition from your current position into a certified Sustainability Manager, please give us a call at 800-460-2575.

By Lesley Cowie

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