With the ongoing climate crisis, sustainability is growing in importance for businesses in all sectors. This will inevitably begin to affect accountants, who will have to take into account far more than just the bottom line.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at why sustainability is growing in importance, how it affects accountancy and how to make your firm more sustainable.
Why businesses care
Global temperatures are rising, air pollution is beginning to impact public health and there’s single use plastic almost everywhere you look. It’s no wonder that people are ready to make a change – and businesses are at the very centre of that movement.
As well as staying compliant with the latest regulations, businesses need to move to more sustainable practices to keep up with consumer demand. A massive 81% of global consumers feel “strongly” that companies should work to improve the environment.
Needless to say, that has started to affect their shopping habits. 88% of consumers will be more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues, while 92% are more likely to trust those that do so. In short, companies that don’t care will start to lose customers.
A knock-on effect for accountants
Traditionally, accountants have had one thing at the top of their list – namely, finance. Their role is to balance the books, cut costs and increase the bottom line for their clients. However, with this new focus on sustainability, the role of an account may be changing.
Why? In short, not every sustainable measure is the most cost-effective option for businesses. Swapping single-use plastic packaging for an eco-friendly alternative, for example, could set them back a significant amount in the short term. Thirty years ago, your accountant may advise you to cut costs wherever possible.
Now, however, they’ve got more than one factor to consider – not least because better sustainability today could benefit the business financially in the long run. Research by the G&A Institute found that 85% of companies now report on their sustainability, including environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. That’s up from just 20% in 2013. Going forward, accountants will need to balance what’s best for the company’s bottom line with what’s practical and beneficial for their ESG.
What about accountants’ sustainability?
On the flipside, there’s the question of how sustainable accountants are themselves. Companies that have become eco-conscious will be looking for like-minded partners, so it could be crucial for accountants to ‘practice what they preach’. Here are some ways of doing it:
Going paper free is one of the simplest ways to cut down on your environmental impact. Using less paper means fewer trees cut down, more oxygen naturally produced, and more carbon being absorbed. You get the idea. You’ll also benefit from a tidier office, more secure data and big savings on stationery.
Nowadays, the majority of accountants already use accounting software. It’s simply a case of using it to its full potential. Make sure all records are stored digitally, send invoices online, and even use digital note-taking apps rather than a shower of post-its.
When it comes to the environment, recycling has become one of the fundamentals. The vast majority of us put plastic, glass and paper into the right bins at home. Unfortunately, businesses don’t seem to have got the memo. Research has shown that 80% of UK companies don’t separate their waste.
As well as going paper free and recycling wherever possible, you can encourage employees to cut down on single-use plastics altogether with reusable plastic bottles. Why not add your logo for a bit of free publicity too?
Around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Needless to say, the daily commute plays a big part in this. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to cut your company’s contribution. Cycle to work schemes reward employees for getting on their bike, while car sharing or ‘pooling’ can be equally effective in cutting down emissions.
You could also consider remote working. Allowing staff to work from home, or closer to home, eliminates or cuts down their commute, even if it’s just for one day a week.
IT equipment, including devices, servers and communication networks, accounted for 8% of global energy consumption in 2018. That’s on course to reach 14% by 2020 and could equal half the contribution of the transportation sector by 2040.
By consolidating businesses’ data in shared servers, cloud hosting can reduce your impact on the environment. It also allows you to scale use based on your exact needs, so there’s less space and energy being used needlessly. To quantify this, a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that moving common programs like email and spreadsheet software can cut energy use by 87%.
Time to act?
If you want to remove the need for local servers, IT infrastructure and the associated costs for your business, Green Cloud Hosting can help. We offer tailored hosted desktops for accountants across the UK, perfect for all your most valuable software like Sage, Iris, QB and so much more.
To find out more, give us a call on 0161 979 0691 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.