Thursday the 22nd of April is Earth Day. A day that has relevance to all of us, accountants included.
First celebrated way back in 1970, Earth Day is a global celebration of the importance of protecting the environment and the ever spinning planet on which we all reside and rely upon. The importance and urgency of the conversation increases year on year and in 2021 Earth Day is an event that can be ignored by no-one. In fact we’re now at the stage where protecting our environment should be our number one priority, 365 days of the year. And we need to apply that priority to every aspect of our lives. So whether you’re an accountancy employee or someone responsible for a workplace (be it physical or virtual) there’s no excuse not to take a moment to audit your environmental impact and set goals to lessen it. After all, in the words of Margaret Mead:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
So let’s start with some ideas that can be implemented by everyone; be it the Senior Partner, the cleaning team or the Junior Accountant that’s just joined the firm. Your workplace may be a COVID secure office or it may be your kitchen table so take a look around it and consider how you might improve the following:
- What’s the Reduce/Reuse/Recycle situation? Take a moment to consider how you’re performing against it and also remind yourself that the three R’s are listed in that order for a reason! Yes the endless reams of paper you use can be recycled but the best option is always the first – reduce. Did you even need it in the first place? In the digital age there’s no excuse for excessive printing so read on a screen wherever you can. And apply the very same theory to everything you see around you; milk (plastic or glass bottles), plastic document wallets… where can you see waste and what can you do to prevent it?
- If you’re working from home take a look at your energy usage and if you’re an employer adapting to supporting your staff at home, this is a great thing to remind them to do! Install energy efficient lightbulbs, make sure you’re not heating spaces unnecessarily and consider switching your energy supplier to one that uses clean energy exclusively. Close applications you’re not using on your electronic devices.
- Make your space green – literally! Houseplants emit oxygen and reduce air pollution so they’ll immediately create a cleaner environment for you to work in. Plus they are renowned for offering those around them a calmer, more serene and mindful environment to live and work in!
- Take a look at your finances. Look at your personal investments and consider the workplace pension that you either offer or pay into at your accountancy firm. The Financial Times recently reported that moving a £100,000 pension pot with a traditional portfolio with oil and gas companies to a positive impact portfolio is the equivalent of taking five or six cars off the road a year! If you don’t like the look of the credentials of your workplace pension discuss it with your colleagues and managers and see if anything can be done about how your money is invested.
- Consider the impact of your travel. We know – sounds silly when travel is something most of us can only dream of right now, but if you’ve surprised yourself by how much you’ve enjoyed your UK based adventures since the pandemic began, perhaps consider alternative holidays in the future and limit your long distance travel to really special occasions.
There’s lots that committed accountants can do from work and home to lessen their impact on the Earth. But it’s no secret that the biggest damage takes place at an organisational level, so if you’re a decision maker at a firm (of any size) there’s plenty more that you can do. Here’s some easy wins:
Use your team building time and budget to make a difference. You might volunteer your time and resources to a great community cause or take a look at the Earth Day 2021 Toolkit for ideas on organised clean ups or environmental Teach Ins.
Consider how you procure office supplies and pledge only to work with other organisations who champion environmental sustainability as part of their culture and practices.
Consider how you can educate your workforce on important topics that relate to sustainability. Make an annual plan to collectively learn about one important topic each month and for the team to stop for half an hour to discuss how that issue impacts the environment. Then have a go at some simple changes as a group; Meat Free Mondays, Car Free Commutes, Plastic Free Swaps.
But the last and arguably most important change employers can make is to encourage challenge, conversation and debate on the topic of environmentalism as part of your workplace culture. If one of your staff questions your workplace pension system, take the time to listen and act if at all possible. Make sustainability a standing item on your leadership agendas and report back to your workplace community on topics discussed and actions agreed. Create a committee within your workforce of people who are passionate about change and empower them to make things happen. Employ people who are change makers and understand that their roles as accountants overlap with their roles as global citizens.
“The world of work is evolving and as the responsibility of nurturing and protecting the people at the core of accountancy firms increases for employers, so too does the expectation that staff will care about the ethics and values of these firms and commit to working with them for the benefit of all. At Public Practice Recruitment Ltd we support practices to find. not only talented and experienced accountants, but committed members of society who bring more than the ability to generate profit to work with them. “
Garry Howling, MD
To learn more about how you can get involved with Earth Day in 2021 take a look at the resources and tools on offer here. To work with another organisation that truly understands the power of community in the workplace and how it can impact productivity, profitability AND protecting the planet, trust the experts with your recruitment needs and contact Public Practice Recruitment Ltd today.