Sustainable accounting: The future of talent management
May 15, 2023
Motivation and productivity can bolster a firm’s ability to retain and attract talent. But small commitments towards reducing your firm’s carbon footprint or introducing initiatives like paid volunteer days can go a long way to motivate employees, boost productivity and, ultimately, stand out to prospective clients as a winning partner
In this day and age, business sustainability does not simply refer to the long-term health of its bottom line. In order to survive and thrive, organisations have got to be able to demonstrate their commitment to the sustainability of their communities and the environments they inhabit.
Firms across a dizzying range of sectors are under more pressure than ever before to demonstrate their commitments to environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices.
In practice, that means doing things like demonstrating viable actions to protect the environment, engage with local communities to make life better, hold high standards for workplace conditions and demonstrate financial transparency and regulatory compliance.
But ESG is by no means a superficial or promotional exercise — in fact, it now dictates an organisation’s future.
Statistically speaking, 70% of customers say they’d cut ties with a company that doesn’t take its social responsibility seriously. Yet more important still, 69% of employees say they’d be willing to leave their current organisation in order to work for someone more focused on ESG principles.
For those organisations yet to fully embrace ESG, these numbers represent a stark future. But for those keen and willing to develop their commitments toward sustainability, they represent a huge opportunity — particularly where employee engagement is concerned.
“People are so much more engaged and want to work for a company that aligns with their values,” explains Laura Murphy,
Research indicates half of MBA students would be willing to take a lower salary to work for a company they know takes ESG seriously — and bearing in mind that accountancy firms are already battling an ongoing skills shortage, it goes without saying practices have got to take this into consideration.
By placing a strategic emphasis on sustainability, organisations are able to attract top talent. Yet it’s the day-to-day actions after new hires get onboarded where firms can really utilise ESG alignment to build stronger bonds with their talent.
On a day-to-day basis, Bright’s Green Team is constantly working on creative ways to make the company’s operations more environmentally friendly — while the firm’s Charity Committee takes ownership of employee fundraising, organising events and initiatives for both its corporate charity partners as well as charities that are close to their own hearts.
“Sharing experiences is a massive way for people to get out there and get involved. There’s a huge benefit to getting out of the office and seeing a different perspective, and employees can also build so many additional skills for ,” says Bright’s Laura Murphy.
“If we can create environments where our staff are always learning across different areas of their life, that’s a win for us. Employees who are happier, who are willing to give discretionary effort, who are committed to the company and who believe in our values and who want to do well — they’re ultimately going to put more into their day-to-day activities and you’re going to have more efficiency, they’re ultimately going to stay with you.”
Companies that demonstrate ESG and give employees these opportunities do report more motivated workforces. That’s why, according to researchers at McKinsey & Company, firms with a strong commitment to ESG and sustainability benefit from enhanced staff productivity which stems from those increased levels of motivation.
“The ideal, when you’re working towards a shared vision, is that people can really amplify each other’s objectives and it’s really critical that we start that right from the get go,” says Emily Paramore, a HR generalist at Bright.
At the end of the day, it is that motivation and productivity which can not only bolster a firm’s ability to retain and attract talent. Tiny commitments towards reducing your firm’s carbon footprint or introducing initiatives like paid volunteer days seem like small steps. Yet they can go a long way to motivate employees, boost productivity and, ultimately, stand out to prospective clients as a winning partner.
That is the real power of ESG alignment — and it could be the first step towards accountancy practices future-proofing themselves.