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How accountants can contribute to sustainability

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Flaka Jasari

Jan 6, 2020

As we enter a new decade, businesses are thinking about ways that they can improve and adapt. At Xero, we recently announced our Net Zero @ Xero initiative to reduce our emissions footprint and offset 100% of what we emit. 

We’re serious about making a positive impact on our communities and the planet, and we’re continuing to develop our social and environmental initiatives, through 2020 and beyond.  

As individuals move to make their own lives more sustainable, it’s fair that they’re asking businesses to play their part. 

Potential employees are increasingly considering additional factors such as commitment to the environment when forming an impression of the business, and companies with a clear, ethical stance will attract the best candidates. 

At Xero, we believe accountants have a key role to play when it comes to sustainability. Here’s why…

What does a sustainable business look like?

Sustainability as a concept is expanding to encompass a whole range of areas. 

From an environmental angle, almost every business needs to concern itself with pollution and carbon emissions from travel, heating, and other sources. 

If you or your clients are working with physical products, then you’ll need to consider the use of natural resources, while primarily online businesses must focus on things like energy consumption. 

Sustainability also encompasses social responsibility and how a company behaves, treats its employees, and gives back to its community.

So, where do accountants fit in?

Accountants are perfectly positioned to help clients become more sustainable.

You can offer the answer to the all-important question “but what will that cost?” and help make a clear business case for sustainability initiatives. 

Saving power, for instance, saves money while going paperless can help the business run more efficiently. 

Business reports play a critical role in guiding the business and in many ways, they’re the eyes and ears for decision-makers.

Given that you already play a critical role in creating and shaping these reports, you’re well positioned to help clients improve their sustainability and choose the right metrics to track and link them to the bottom line. 

It’s important to point out that sustainability doesn’t have to be expensive, and if done right it can even reduce costs.

In fact, businesses which invest in environment, social and corporate governance tend to create greater returns over the long term.

What steps can accountants take?

Xero partner Bishop Fleming has set about trying to reduce its consumption in paper, mileage and gas and electricity by 5% each year.

They’re doing this by successfully transferring to a virtual document management system instead of paper invoices and receipts, and trading polluting flights for conference calls, among countless other changes. 

Their initiative has been a huge success, and the new, greener Bishop Fleming continues to thrive while making a smaller impact on the environment. 

A sustainable year ahead 

Given the society-wide push for greater sustainability, it makes sense that you and your clients move in this direction.

Together, we can have a positive impact on the environment and communities around the world.

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