How firms within public practice can become more sustainable by bolstering their corporate social responsibility pledges and adopting greener practices as a means to retain talent

Is your firm sustainable enough? 

June 5th 2024 marks the annual World Environmental Day; a day that celebrates the global milestones of environmental stewardship, whilst acknowledging the work that still needs to be done across the world to mitigate the growing concerns surrounding climate change.  

It may be easy to overlook sustainability and cast off its responsibility to the Government and higher authorities. However, it’s essential that businesses operating in every industry collectively unite and play their part in protecting the planet. And that includes public practice.  

Accountants across the world have a duty to implement eco-friendly practices, formulate better policies, and contribute to the economy of sustainability. The ACCA recognises and supports this, stating that “accountants, with their broadening skillset, have a central role to play in informing, driving and embedding sustainable approaches.” 

But how can firms incorporate sustainability into their daily duties to take environmental responsibility, seize new opportunities and support World Environment Day?  

In today’s blog, we’ll explore the sustainable work currently being done within the public practice space, and how your firm can implement similar strategies to bolster your corporate social responsibility pledge and adopt greener practices. 

EY CEO Outlook Pulse Survey May 2024 

The recent EY CEO Outlook Pulse Survey has found that “sustainability considerations are becoming deep-rooted in long-term corporate decision-making”, as more CEOs across the globe are showing “longer-term ambitions around decarbonisation.” 

The latest quarterly research surveyed 1,200 global executives to provide insight into the rapidly evolving global economic landscape. Out of those surveyed, 54% now view sustainability issues as a higher priority than 12 months ago.   

However, despite the growing environmental awareness amongst thought leaders within the global marketplace, 23% admit that they have deprioritised sustainability due to financial circumstances.  

In fact, EY states that “investing in technology, including AI to improve growth and productivity, is a top priority for 47% of CEOs over the next 12 months”. Therefore, it can be assumed that investment in artificial intelligence has taken priority over sustainability.  

With CEOs and investors pulling back from their environmental responsibility, there’s never been a more important time for firms to step up to the mark and make sustainability a core goal.  

Read the full EY CEO Outlook Pulse Survey here.   

Sustainability Efforts within Public Practice 

So, what are the powers that be within the public practice sector doing to combat climate change? 

Long story short: more work is happening than people may even know, which is great news for the environment!  

Back in 2021, the ICAEW became the first professional body to achieve carbon neutral status. Since then, the Insitute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has been on a journey to vastly reduce public practice’s environmental impact. By heightening the volume of conversation around sustainability, the ICAEW has been actively encouraging firms to follow the same trajectory.  

Similarly, the ACCA is proud to be at the forefront of advocating for a better world by making sustainability a prime focus of its charitable endeavours.  

In April 2024, the ACCA held its 2024 Virtual Conference to discuss the ways in which accountants can play their part at the heart of sustainable organisations of the future. As well as this, the ACCA’s ‘Accounting for a Better World’ campaign underscores a new sustainable era within public practice and calls for firms to greenify their operations to contribute to this collective effort. 

In support of this, Xero is hosting a session titled ‘Carbon accounting: the next frontier of compliance’ in June 2024 to discuss the introduction of carbon accounting and encourage accountancy firms to upskill in this area and build a valuable new offering.  

Overall, ICAEW, ACCA and Xero are setting the standard of sustainability within public practice. Their unification in the effort to mitigate global warming draws attention to the topic of sustainability and calls for a bigger change within the sector. 

In light of this, how can your firm implement greener, more environmentally friendly practices? Let’s talk about it.  

How your firm can get involved 

Do you want to become more sustainable, but you’re not sure how?  

When it comes to becoming more sustainability, small changes can have a big impact. Not only will your firm experience long-term economic benefits as a result, but you’ll also enhance your brand reputation, which will ultimately attract top candidates.  

Want to know how ethical principles can translate into business development? Champion your company values to retain top talent.  

Introduce Greener Office Practices 

Adopting more environmentally friendly workplace practices is one of the most effective ways to minimise waste and reduce resource usage. This may include: 

  • Going paperless 
  • Recycling materials properly 
  • Investing in energy-efficient equipment 

Is your firm yet to embrace cloud-based accountancy software? If so, now’s the time! Today’s innovative technology enables you to safely store and handle financial documents without the need for physical printing. It’s better for the environment and for your clients – it’s a win-win.  

Encourage Sustainable Commuting 

While it’s true that a lot of firms now offer Electric Car and Cycle to Work schemes, there’s still a lot that don’t. If your practice belongs in that category, why not consider promoting sustainable commuting as part of your CSR pledge? 

Offering remote and hybrid working is a great way to reduce your company’s carbon footprint whilst striking a better work-life balance for your staff. As the climate crisis worsens, it’s important that firms keep an open mind and continue to adapt their remote working policies to fulfil their sustainability responsibilities and support their team.  

If remote working is simply not an option for your firm, why not consider going down the eco-friendly transportation route? Investing in bike storage and providing incentives for staff using public transport will help contribute to a greener working culture.  

Partner with Sustainable Suppliers  

Can your firm confidently say that your office suppliers are sustainable? 

Opting for businesses who offer recycled materials and sustainable solutions will help reduce your carbon footprint and show your staff that you’re taking the necessary steps to achieve your CSR goals.  

Did you know that 83% of the UK’s Millennial workforce said that they would be more loyal to a company that works to mitigate environmental issues? 

Read the full Cone Communications Millennial Employee Study report, and discover how CSR can help your firm retain top talent.  

Involve Your Staff 

Climate change affects everyone, everywhere. It’s a topic we’re all aware of. So why not involve your staff in discussions around sustainability and allow them to have their say in how your firm can improve?  

Offering training sessions, hosting workshops and encouraging employees to participate in sustainability projects will help your firm foster a culture of environmental awareness.  

And if you’re looking to really go the extra mile, why not implement an incentive programme that will reward your team for their sustainability efforts?  

Maintaining Long-Term Change 

Implementing sustainability on a firm-wide scale goes beyond corporate social responsibility; it’s a permanent shift in attitude that requires every professional within public practice to listen, learn and adapt.  

And here at Public Practice Recruitment Ltd, we’re passionate about doing our bit to mitigate climate change by harnessing green practices and encouraging other firms to do the same thing. As a fully remote team that operates paper and commute free, we’re proud to do business with as little environmental impact as possible.  

Think it’s time for your firm to reassess its market position and adopt new values to help grow your team? We’re here to help! Get in touch with us today.  

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