How to Progress Your Career as an Accountant with Net Zero Climate Impact

Conference of Parties 26 – what does it mean for accountants?

Have you noticed that you’re seeing a whole lot more news about climate change lately? Hopefully you’ve realised that there’s a really important reason for that and it goes by the super catchy title of COP 26.

COP stands for the Conference of Parties and 26 is the number of times this motley crew have met. But this time it’s taking place on home soil (Glasgow) and the stakes have never been higher.

The COP was established in 1995 by the United Nations. Representatives from member states were invited to attend an annual event to discuss the latest developments and negotiate collective actions focusing on climate.

The pressure on this year’s conference is higher than ever. With the clock ticking for the global population to stand together to mitigate the impacts of climate change by ensuring that global temperatures rise by as little as possible (agreed to me no more than 1.5 degrees celcius in Paris, 2015), leaders must stand together to agree meaningful change that can be put into place right now.

And as a member of this global population it can be really hard to place your trust for ensuring the future of our planet in the hands of a bunch of international politicians who don’t seem to be able to agree on anything!

But in the words of Margaret Mead:

‘Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.’

So what can accountants focussed on progressing their careers in practice do to make meaningful change towards protecting our planet?

The key piece of advice we can give here is that you’ll need to wholeheartedly accept that change is critical and be open to exploring how it might look in practice.

If you’re able to adopt a mindset whereby you can accept that the need to embrace change will impact every single aspect of our lives at home and at work you’ll find that you have questions that you’ll need to explore with prospective or existing employers. And should you be lucky enough to work with employers who are also congnicent of the need for change at every level, you’ll find that your career will fly as we progress into a future unlike any present we’ve ever know.

Sounds a bit cryptic doesn’t it? Here’s some practical examples of how accountants can be prepared for and lead the change to a more sustainable global future.

1. Knowledge is power. Read up on the problem and how you can be part of the solution. Here’s a couple of great books that will help you understand what’s at stake and what small actions can be taken at practice level to help:

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein

All We Can Save by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K Wilkinson

2. Get comfortable with questioning what we currently consider to be normal practices. At some point, the attitudes of all accountants will need to shift, and you and I know that the sooner that shift takes place, the less serious the concequences will be, so normalising challenge and questioning practices that you see taking place needs to become standard. So, if your firm has a particular policy that you see could be much greener or much more inclusive, call it out. At some point in the not too distant future you’ll be celebrated for having done it, even if it doesn’t feel like it just yet.

3. Encourage change. If you’re in a role that you enjoy but you feel your organisation isn’t environmentally aware, be the one that calls that out and suggest and encourage conversations and change. If you’re looking for a new role make discussions about your potential new employer’s commitment to change a part of your interview conversations. If your employer is as committed as you are you’ll find you connect on an even deeper level and you’ll be more likely to land the job.

4. Embrace technology. It’s likely that many of the tools we’ll need to tackle climate change will be technology based and many of those will already be in development mode. Encouraging your colleagues to embrace change in all of its many forms and being open to trying new ways of working will be critical in helping the accountancy workforce to adjust to the inevitable changes we’ll all need to make to keep temperature rises low.

5. Don’t stand for opression. When you’ve read up on the history of climate change you’ll understand that many of the ‘other’ issues that are being challenged in modern industry, such as diversity and inclusion in all of its many many forms, are intrinsically linked with how we find the solutions to the problems we’ve created as a human race. So calling out any bias or opression that you see in the workplace and holding your employers (current or potential) to account will make for a brighter future in the accountancy sector.

‘How to tackle climate change is such a complex discussion. I doubt that many of us envy the huge decisions that lie ahead for the leaders attending COP 26. But on the ground in accountancy we’re delighted to see that accountants are looking to work for firms who are talking about the climate emergency and are keen to employ like minded staff. If you’re feeling disheartened by your firm’s reluctance to incorporate greener ways of working into its values, we know of many practices, large and small, who can support you to make a difference and we’d invite you to upload your CV today so that we can help you find your next role with one of them.’

Garry Howling, MD

We’re always excited to work with accountants who are part of the next generation of positive change. There’s lots of work to do around the globe to protect the planet and all who live on it, but at Public Practice Recruitment Ltd we’re feeling optimistic that if the right conversations can be integrated into all aspects of our lives – recruitment included, we can do enough to protect future generations. So be part of the change and email us at and we’ll match your skills with clients who value you as an accountant and as a committed global citizen.



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