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sustainability

A CFO’s Guide in Supporting Climate Change

about 1 month ago by Andrea Amato
sustainability

Institutions across the globe are in constant discussions with each other surrounding sustainability efforts that are not only implemented from a political front, but is also a driving force from home and in the workplace.

The corporate eye has recently turned inward to finance departments, and this comes to no surprise. Climate change efforts require expensive investments—close to $1 trillion dollars yearly through 2030, to be more accurate—and such hefty investments fall under the responsibility of one leader in particular, the CFO.

There are a few other reasons CFOs are the force toward monetary change to better the environment. One such example is investments can be risky and these should be mitigated as much as possible, and CFOs are supposedly comfortable making these decisions. Predictions for the future of our planet are ever-changing due to reports consistently being released to inform a global audience, increasing the likelihood of risky deals, and more onus on leaders to therefore act responsibly.


Acting on public pressure

With many organisations already investing in legal and policy amendments to support climate efforts, CFOs are feeling the pressure to incorporate sustainable measures in their own corporations. Such pressure presents differently in the West, where 67% of CFOs in Europe feel pressured from clients and consumers to support climate agendas, but in North America this number decreases to 43%. The argument to support these quantities is that Europe has been fighting to support climate efforts earlier than the US, so public pressure is long-standing.

Although public attitudes can take some time to change, the monetary risk imposed by climate change has forcibly urged organisations to act quicker in response to sustainability efforts. With this, CFOs have not only succumbed to public pressure, but have also implemented some strategies to turn a greener leaf for in-office and remote jobs. Specifically, these strategies include:

  • Reduced carbon emissions from supply chains or logistics,

  • Improved energy use,

  • Monitoring of climate risk in corporate governance, and

  • Use of climate-efficient technologies and hardware.

The above portrays common strategies that can be adopted across numerous organisations in any industry, such as in software developer jobs and more importantly, accounting jobs in Malta and abroad. Whilst investing in renewables are well and good, it is important to actively involve greener practices in the everyday workplace context. Some organisations take the above and public pressure to a step forward in developing and manufacturing greener equipment, allowing clients and consumers further sustainable resources they too can apply.


Further practical recommendations for CFOs

In a broader context, it’s important for CFOs to grasp a good understanding of what organisations are doing to support climate efforts—and more importantly, whether these actions are effective and not fall under an umbrella of limitations. Luckily, several resources exist to outline how finance departments are getting involved:

  • Carbon fees: implementing a kind of carbon fund to organisations introduces a collective fee on carbon emissions. This can be taken internally when exercising certain decisions or externally depending on external investments. Leading tech giant Microsoft manages a carbon fund, a sort of tax system to reduce their carbon footprint. This ethos has inspired many organisations to follow suit with their own finance jobs in Malta and worldwide.

  • Sustainable roles: finance and accounting jobs are turning more sustainable in having to consider their actions for a more global approach. Some organisations are even introducing an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) accounting team that work on green strategies. CFOs are also re-thinking their positions that balances between finance and sustainability tasks to help design and invest in green initiatives.

  • Accountable and transparent practices: as recommended by The International Finance Reporting Foundation (IFRS) (2020) any climate-related decisions should be carefully evaluated between the CFO, auditors, and so forth, where such decisions are disclosed as part of general corporate governance. Climate-related risks should be openly discussed, ensuring proper mitigation. Although these serve as general recommendations, reports such as these pave the way for investor pressure to explore sustainable efforts for active implementation.

These points can grow quite comprehensive, as such changes are structural as they are functional. It is no longer enough to put little effort into sustainable practices, as it is now high time to produce tangible results that continue to positively influence a wave of change future generations can improve on preserving our planet.


Sustainability for the long-term

With present news placing immense pressure on organisations to give back to the environment, this overwhelming presence can lead many to resort to short-term and efficient measures that put up a pleasant front but does not provide long-term promise. CFOs and similar leaders should look beyond such measures to effectively contribute to combatting the global climate crisis.

As part of their role, CFOs share with stakeholder’s prospects in order to inform decision-making related to investments and risk mitigation. Now, these must include climate-related reform from an organisational level. With this, perspectives of CFOs need to transfer toward long-term initiatives that provide a concerted front in supporting the preservation of our environment.

Considering the above, CFOs are granted a key responsibility in involving other board members and informing them on current climate affairs. All executives should be accountable in their respective fields for integrating green initiatives in their departments, and these should be established and practised for long-term maintenance, including for remote organisations and jobs.

One strong means to assign accountability is through constructing a dedicated research and development (R&D) team. This is because climate reports are consistently updated in line with current and international data. R&D teams can remain up to date, assess and interpret present data and let these inform executive decision-making. For organisations willing to develop green products, such teams are vital for brainstorming innovative approaches that aligns well with the latest research.


Weathering the storm with organisational support

Of course, these suggestions and recommendations are all well and good in theory. However, this article aims to work beyond theoretical assumptions and provide practical remarks that can be implemented, to different degrees, in organisations. R&D teams and any climate-related strategies come at a cost, and CFOs alongside finance departments must collectively announce fair budgets to support these initiatives.

Whatever is implemented, organisations should invest in software developer tools that regularly reports any adopted environmental practice. This allows CFOs to better monitor and measure their proposals and manage these effectively short and long-term. Such performative measures also help attest to the transparency organisations hold for clients and employees to showcase their own data in bettering their practices. Tools can provide valuable information to finance jobs as part of collecting rick assessments.

Like any leader, CFOs are equipped with the abilities to amend current workplace practices supporting sustainability. They’re able to become a driving force and role-model for other executives in investing greener initiatives with strategic purpose. Whilst climate change presents novel challenges daily, CFOs can produce a narrative that assesses organisational opportunities and take a proactive stance. In this way, they will not only contribute from an internal scale, but also lead the way for other companies to follow suit.