There's Still No Accounting for Sustainability (but That'll Change)

Nature of Business Radio

There's Still No Accounting for Sustainability (but That'll Change)

Nature of Business radio, created and hosted by Chrissy Coughlin, is a weekly show on business and environment.

There certainly remains some level of skepticism when it comes to sustainability reporting. Fortunately, as Brendan LeBlanc, Executive Director, Climate Change & Sustainability Services at Ernst & Young explains, things are changing. Companies are increasingly auditing their sustainability reporting in a similar fashion as their financials with very positive results.

Brendan and his team are leading the charge and we talked about his recent move from his small CPA firm to Ernst & Young and the opportunities that have come with this move such as the creation of his strong interdisciplinary team and global access. We also talked about the increasing role of the CFO in sustainability reporting, his findings from a recent GreenBiz survey, and much more.

Brendan LeBlancBrendan is a trained CPA with an instinct for green. He lives on a dirt road in Southern New Hampshire with his family, a dog, and 13 free-ranging chickens. Professionally, he audits financials for companies and has had the foresight to see the importance of incorporating his accounting knowledge into sustainability reporting in a world seeing a significant rise in mission driven companies. Indeed, companies are coming to the realization that there is no longer any benefit to, in Brendan’s words, kick the can down the road.

And at the GreenBiz Forum in New York City a few weeks back, Brendan presented the findings of a survey he conducted with billion dollar organizations and up from the GreenBiz database. From this survey, there were 6 key findings (These will be highlighted in an upcoming White paper out on March 6). They include:

1. Sustainability reporting is growing but tools are still developing. The tools are still quite behind.
2. The role of the CFO in sustainability is on the rise.
3. Employees are emerging as the #2 stakeholder.
4. Despite regulatory uncertainty, Greenhouse gas reporting is strong.
5. There is a growing interest in water. The awareness of the scarcity of business resources is on the rise.
6. Ratings and rankings matter to company executives.

We talked about the employee engagement piece in particular. I often discuss employee engagement with my guests on my radio show and here we see it again. For the companies surveyed above, the employee is now the number 2 stakeholder. Think about the power of this in terms of recruitment and retention. The question for everyone is now what to do with this information.

The role of the CFO in sustainability is also a big deal. CFOs have their fingers on the budget. Brendan also provides some great insight on this.

It’s a great discussion that helps us make sense of what third party assurance is up to these days in the sustainability world and the great minds that are joining the ranks. Listen on!

George Papoulias edited this podcast.

Accounting photo via Shutterstock.