Embedding sustainability in practice – The CPA Journal


Our current issue is all about sustainability, often defined as long-term value creation. For New York State CPAs, this sustainability can be demonstrated in a number of ways – including environmental, social and governance. To remain relevant as a profession, we need to find ways to naturally integrate sustainable practices into our businesses, companies and working with our customers. I hope you enjoy our discussion on this topic in all its facets.

Just a decade ago, the concept of ESG didn’t seem that widespread in the public consciousness. However, the concept of ESG is far from new, and CPAs should be at the forefront of embedding sustainable practices in our workplaces, wherever they may be. And we should try to improve the ESG prospects of our clients and colleagues. Finally, CPAs are often tasked with managing, overseeing, and operating the financial and operational aspects of a business.

The time is now. Regulators like the SEC want to improve and standardize reporting in ESG areas like climate-related disclosures. But whether ESG is mandated or not, sharpening our focus on it is not just the right thing to do; It’s a good deal.

In one of my previous positions, when I was the CFO of a community college in Baltimore, I didn’t even initially consider ESG as part of my job. To be honest, I was only focused on the financial “bottom line” (sound familiar?). But in this role, I oversaw more than just the finance departments of accounts receivable, general accounting, and budget. I was also responsible for non-financial activities such as the campus facilities and grounds, the police, the bookstore and even the radio station (no, I never spoke on air).

Suddenly, ESG concerns were a big focus of mine, especially with a campus community that rightly wanted to understand what their college is doing to support environmentally sustainable practices. With an engaged student body, social and governance issues have often been a priority for me.

All in all, the conscious handling of ESG concepts played a big role in this CFO role, although at that time no standardized reporting was generally required or even created voluntarily in the higher education sector.

Are you wondering how you can better integrate sustainability or ESG concepts into your working life? Well, your society is here to support you.

For a lifetime of education, please consider the Foundation for Accounting Education (FAE). FAE offers CPAs lifelong education through its wide range of courses in accounting, auditing, taxation, industry issues, ethics and advisory services in multiple formats.

Of course, as CPAs, we need to complete professional development to keep our license. The importance of this requirement is that it allows us to remain relevant to our customers, colleagues and stakeholders and ensure we are creating long-term value for our communities. It also helps cultivate and maintain a sustainable work environment.

In many ways, sustainability is embedded in society itself, even though we may not see it that way. For more than 125 years, the NYSSCPA has championed our members and the accounting profession. I was recently reminded that when the company was formed, the stream clicked in New York just five years earlier and Teddy Roosevelt was still the New York City Police Commissioner. With all the changes in the world and in the profession, your company has strived to maintain a sustainable presence over the years.

Whether it’s protecting the licensing quality of other and future CPAs, ensuring that CPAs are the ones the SEC relies on in providing financial auditing services to the public, and educating our members through our various publications (including this one) and to educate By organizing conferences and events, submitting reports to regulatory bodies, and simply maintaining public confidence in the profession, your company will maintain a lasting presence.

What’s next in sustainability? I encourage you to find out by reading this issue, which includes articles on ESG reporting, how CFOs can impact ESG, and how CPAs can help integrate ESG concepts even in small businesses.

I hope you enjoy the important topics covered in this issue and I look forward to your continued engagement on ESG and sustainability. This is where the world is already, and this is where we as accountants should strive to lead.

For the job,

Calvin Harris, Chartered Accountant (MD). NYSSCPA/CEO.


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