Governance news & articles

Most recent news items issued from Chartered Accountants Ireland in relation to Governance is below. If you are looking for older news items please use the site search.

Sustainability

[This article was originally published in the December 2017 issue of Accountancy Ireland and can be found in PDF form in the Accountancy Ireland archive. Judith Wylie, author, is also a member of the Chartered Accountants Ireland Expert Working Group on Sustainability]  Chartered Accountants can add significant value to an organisation’s CSR activity. In this article, we explain how with examples from NI Water.Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has escalated up the policy agenda in Ireland in recent months with the enactment of the European Union (Disclosure of Non-Financial and Diversity Information by Certain Large Undertakings and Groups) Regulations 2017. This regulation requires large public interest entities and certain organisations with over 500 employees to include a non-financial statement in the director’s report and a diversity report in the corporate governance statements for financial years starting on or after 1 August 2017.Irrespective of the new regulations, the Irish Government has, for a number of years, seen CSR and other non-financial disclosures as an opportunity to support its objective of “building a strong economy and delivering a fair society so that businesses and communities thrive throughout Ireland”. The Government has stated that it wants “Ireland to be recognised as a centre of excellence for responsible and sustainable business practices”. To this end, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald T.D., launched Towards Responsible Business: Ireland’s Second National Plan on Corporate Social Responsibility 2017-2020 in June 2017. This plan follows the first National Plan on CSR (2014-2016) in which the Government first indicated its support for CSR activity and reporting.The National Plan is not mandatory and hence, for the majority of businesses in Ireland, CSR activity and reporting are voluntary and supported though several business initiatives including the Business Working Responsibility Mark from Business in the Community Ireland, Chambers Ireland’s Annual CSR Awards and the government-sponsored CSR stakeholder forum. The CSR stakeholder forum has an online CSR tool for SMEs and it hosts a CSR hub that enables companies to disseminate best practice. Do Chartered Accountants need to know about CSR?We would argue that they do, particularly in light of the recent shift in EU regulation towards mandatory disclosure of non-financial information in the annual reports of large undertakings and groups. Moreover, ISA (UK and Ireland) 700 applies to all audits. Under ISA 700, auditors have to read all financial and non-financial information in the annual report of any undertaking being audited to identify material inconsistencies with the financial statements. In addition, they have to identify information in the annual report that is apparently materially incorrect, or materially inconsistent, with knowledge acquired by the audit team in the course of performing their audit. Therefore, if they discover that the CSR disclosures in the annual report do not reflect CSR activities as identified during the course of their audit, they need to consider this when drafting their audit report.CSR is considered to be intrinsically linked with value creation. Chartered Accountants acting in an assurance role or in an advisory capacity must therefore have an appreciation of CSR and its virtues and to advise companies on developing a CSR strategy as well as best practice for reporting on CSR activities. The same is true for Chartered Accountants working in business. They need to be able to assist the board in its decision-making in respect of CSR. Furthermore, some professional services firms specialise in providing CSR assurance in addition to the statutory audit report. Indeed, two thirds of the world’s largest companies provide assurance over their CSR information.This article aims to highlight the importance of CSR and CSR reporting for Chartered Accountants. We also aim to provide a brief summary of the breadth of CSR activities implemented by a company we consider to be a trailblazer for CSR strategy – Northern Ireland (NI) Water. Our scrutiny of this company forms part of a wider research project that investigates the CSR communication strategies of Irish companies. Our research involved analysing the CSR disclosures on its website, annual reports and Twitter feed followed by interviews with a number of key staff throughout the organisation, including Chartered Accountants. The ripple effectIn the words of UN Secretary, Ban Ki-moon in 2016, “Water is central to human survival, the environment and the economy… the basic provision of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene services at home, at school and in the workplace enables a robust economy by contributing to a healthy and productive population and workforce”. NI Water is one of Northern Ireland’s largest companies and is responsible for delivering clean, safe drinking water and taking away wastewater, which it treats before returning it to the environment. Given the nature of its main commodity, it is no surprise that NI Water can be hailed as a beacon for good CSR practice and the hope is that the activities identified in this article will have a ripple effect and inform CSR strategies in other companies.A strategic imperativeNI Water’s CSR strategy is evident at all levels of its business, from being part of the company’s strategic vision to being encouraged at operational level. In commenting on CSR in NI Water, Head of Corporate Governance and Risk, George Ong FCA, stated that CSR is “the lifeblood of the organisation, it is part of everything we do”. NI Water has a dedicated CSR committee comprised of key staff from across the organisation. The CSR committee adopts a proactive and reactive approach to the development of the organisation’s CSR strategy. For example, when NI Water created its long-term strategy (2015-2040), it did so after extensive engagement with customers and other key stakeholders. The strategy includes a vision “to be a valued and trusted provider of one of Northern Ireland’s most essential services; an organisation our customers and staff are proud of”. The strategy outlines eight strategic priorities that support the company’s achievement of their vision, four of which are CSR objectives and relate to social, environmental, ethical and philanthropic issues.NI Water has a formal system in place to record, measure, monitor and report on its CSR activity. A quarterly CSR report is prepared, which identifies each CSR activity’s overall objective, aim and progress during the quarter along with any supporting evidence on the impact or outcome of the activity. The CSR committee meets quarterly and includes representatives from the executive committee. The committee is tasked with ensuring that CSR is integrated into NI Water’s operations, processes and core business strategy. Examples of the breadth of CSR activity within NI Water are outlined under the CSR committees’ three reporting streams.Environment: NI Water is aware that many of its impounding reservoirs are located in areas of outstanding natural beauty. The company is sensitive to visual pollution and takes design steps to minimise the impact that infrastructure can have on beauty spots. The company also adopts a multi-agency approach to sustainable land management. For example, it recently collaborated with Irish Water, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Ulster University, The Rivers Trust and East Border Region to apply for €40.2 million of EU Interreg funding for cross-border projects. The projects involve engagement with local communities to increase awareness of the importance of protecting drinking water supplies; piloting best practice forestry measures; restoring peatland on riverside stretches formerly used for forestry and introducing a land incentive scheme to reduce the entry of contaminants such as pesticides and sediments into watercourses. NI Water is also engaged in a number of renewable energy programmes including solar installations, and it utilises intensive treatment solutions that require less energy. One such solution called an integrated constructed wetland resulted in a 100% reduction in electricity usage in comparison to the former wastewater treatment process. The company has also committed to reducing carbon emissions and is working with other water companies through Water UK to help develop a common accounting methodology that will allow for the more robust reporting of carbon emissions.Colleagues: NI Water has a policy of supporting health and well-being activities for their staff. The cornerstone project is a volunteering programme called Cares Challenge, under which employees are encouraged to undertake volunteering activities during working hours to help benefit the greater community with key staff, including the Chief Executive, Sara Venning, getting involved. The company estimates that NI Water employees contribute over 1,000 volunteering hours per annum to a wide range of projects from painting, decorating and gardening for local community groups and charitable organisations to nature and wildlife projects such as creating pathways in the Mourne Mountains and helping protect wildlife on Rathlin Island.Community: NI Water has several initiatives aimed at educating the public about how they can help keep water clean and safe, including resourcing NI Water educational centres and getting involved in numerous community talks and events. The most successful initiative under this scheme is probably the famous Waterbus. The Waterbus visits over 19,000 pupils in primary schools each year. It provides interactive activities to engage and educate pupils on the importance of the water cycle, and its resources are designed to link with the national curriculum. NI Water’s philanthropic activities extend beyond engaging with local communities and include corporate support for the global charity, WaterAid, whose aim is to create a world where everyone everywhere has safe water, sanitation and hygiene. Fundraising and the promotion of this charity by NI Water within Northern Ireland generates around £75,000 for WaterAid per year. ConclusionsThe example provided by NI Water shows how important a formal approach to managing and reporting on CSR activities has become. Although the focus to date has been on public listed companies and large companies, the fact that the CSR stakeholder forum commissioned an online CSR toolkit for SMEs is indicative of policymakers’ belief that SMEs need to formally recognise that their responsibilities extend beyond the internal business and that the formal recognition of CSR activities has its benefits.Most SMEs undertake CSR activities on an ad hoc basis – for example, providing sponsorship to a local sporting team, encouraging staff to save on electricity or engaging in fundraising activities for charity. Chartered Accountants will increasingly have an important role to play here in advising how these activities can be effectively captured and reported on, in order to integrate them into a value-creating business strategy.Judith Wylie is a lecturer of Accounting at Ulster University. Anne Marie Ward is Professor of Accounting at Ulster University.

Jul 31, 2020
Sustainability

  The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) are providing free content to support organisations in understanding the role of finance in creating resilient business models and a sustainable economy.  A4S AcademyApply for the A4S Academy 12-month core programme (for senior finance professionals) to gain the knowledge and skills needed to embed sustainability into your organization’s decision-making process.For more information on the Academy and how to register, click here. Webinar programmeBenefit from bite-size learning sessions through the A4S webinar programme (open to all). The interactive webinars will explore topics looking at the role finance professionals can play in creating resilient business models, with insights from leading businesses.For more information and how to register, click here. Podcast seriesListen to the Financing our Future podcast series featuring interviews and discussions with leading figures in finance from organizations across the globe. For more information on the series and how to download, click here. Chartered Accountants Ireland is a member organisation of the A4S Accounting Bodies Network. In February 2020 Institute CEO Barry Demspey signed a global pledge, led by A4S, along with 13 other professional accounting organisations to combat climate change. A4S is Prince Charles’ Accounting for Sustainability Project and was established in 2004 with the aim of promoting sustainable decision-making in business.   

Jul 30, 2020
Ethics and Governance

Níall Fitzgerald explains how boards can use the current crisis to take stock and, where appropriate, reflect new priorities.While the COVID-19 crisis continues, organisations are preparing for the uncertainty ahead. This process presents an opportunity for organisations to rethink their priorities, how they deploy resources, and the way they do things.In the months ahead, boards will face new challenges that can give rise to major concerns. This article examines some of those challenges, the responsibility of boards in facing them, and questions board members can ask to help focus on what is important.Going concernIrish and UK company law requires directors to act in the best interests of the company, which includes promoting its success and ensuring that it continues as a going concern. Past corporate collapses have revealed instances where directors failed in this duty. Failures attributed to directors include having unquestioning optimism rather than a challenging mindset and succumbing to groupthink.Given the current uncertainty, threats to going concern are more likely to feature higher on the risk register in many organisations. Oversight is a key role of the board, and this requires directors to have a questioning mindset, apply their skills, experience and knowledge to challenge management appropriately on their judgements, and ensure that they have sufficient evidence to support those judgements. Having a range of skills, experience and knowledge (in addition to diversity in other forms) on a board will help ensure that a range of perspectives and practicalities are considered. Basic good governance practices such as reviewing meeting papers in advance, arriving to meetings prepared, and an effective chair who allows sufficient time for discussion will make a big difference to the quality of the decisions or actions arising.In June 2020, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) published COVID-19 – Going Concern, Risk and Viability: Reporting in Times of Uncertainty. The paper highlights how challenges that would normally relate to building resilience and flexibility (e.g. sourcing short-term cash resources) have pivoted as a result of the pandemic to threats relating to survival and, therefore, going concern.Other examples of current threats and challenges to going concern include:further restrictions that limit the return to normal operations;restrictions placed on government (or other) capital;timing and continuation of government schemes and support packages;short-term impacts of pricing changes to revenue and expenses; andimpacts on human capital.An Institute article titled Going Concern Considerations for Members Preparing or Auditing Financial Statements in the Context of COVID-19 is available on the COVID-19 Hub on Chartered Accountants Ireland’s website.Social responsibility, and public and employee welfareDirectors have a duty under company law to have regard to the interests of employees and will therefore be involved in making important decisions in relation to workforce policies and practices. In addition, corporate governance codes (e.g. the UK Corporate Governance Code) and sustainability frameworks (e.g. an environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework) highlight how a board’s consideration of all stakeholder interests, including societal impact, is important to ensure the organisation’s long-term success.The COVID-19 crisis forced many organisations to rapidly transform the way they work. In many cases, anticipated obstacles to business continuity either did not arise or were overcome with adjustments to how work and people are managed, as well as investment in ICT infrastructure, connectivity and cybersecurity. In April 2020, The UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) released statistics revealing that 49% of adults in employment were working from home. In May 2020, an Irish survey of remote working during the COVID-19 crisis by the Whittaker Institute at National University Ireland Galway and the Western Development Commission revealed that 51% of respondents never worked remotely before the COVID-19 crisis. Of these, 78% would like to continue to work remotely.As public health restrictions are lifted, boards – or board chairs, at least – should engage with CEOs and executive management to support the restoration of operations and plan the safe return to the workplace of employees, suppliers and customers. Executive management and boards should be aware of, and follow, national and local government protocols issued on returning to the workplace.No plan survives the battlefield, so expect adjustments along the way. Updating the board and seeking direction at every turn is not practical, however. It might, therefore, be wise to establish an oversight working party with regular executive engagement and delegated responsibility for overseeing the implementation of plans to restore operations. Decision-making authority should be clearly defined to ensure issues are, where appropriate, referred to the board for a decision. As boards plan for the return to the workplace, directors should consider the following:what work can be done remotely?do certain internal policies need to be rewritten to support new or future ways of working?are there opportunities for automation or digitalisation?what impact could remote working have on organisational culture, and what changes are necessary to align it with the organisation’s mission, vision and values?Boards also have an opportunity to consider how their organisations can have a greater positive social impact. During the crisis, some organisations went further with social responsibility by redirecting their resources to provide support, services and products to the fight against COVID-19. Charities and other not-for-profit organisations excelled in meeting the social needs of many vulnerable people affected by the crisis. Many organisations incentivised staff to get involved in volunteerism to help with, or raise funds for, good causes. In fact, organisations such as Volunteer Ireland and the Royal Voluntary Service reported a surge in registrations, resulting in a surplus of volunteers.Sustainable ‘reset’An important principle set out in the UK Corporate Governance Code is for a board “to promote the long-term sustainable success of the company”. This involves considering how the organisation generates and preserves value, and contributes to wider society over the long-term. It also involves considering the sustainability of the business model – weighing up resilience with efficiency to achieve long-term success. In times of uncertainty, some efficiencies may be sacrificed to achieve resilience. A board’s macro perspective can make a significant contribution in helping the organisation achieve a balance between these two factors.As part of pre-recovery planning, many organisations will engage in horizon scanning to anticipate changes, sources of uncertainty, and future threats and opportunities. While the effect of the COVID-19 crisis on operations may dominate risk perception, organisations also have a unique opportunity to consider how they can rebuild better, greener, and for a more resilient, sustainable world. Boards are well-positioned to lead and encourage innovation on how organisations can adapt to expectations of sustainability from key stakeholders such as investors, customers and regulators. These expectations are apparent in changing social behaviour (e.g. support for global climate protests), investor conditions (e.g. ESG goals or investors’ adoption of Principles for Responsible Investment), and regulator mandates (e.g. the development of standards for ESG disclosures for financial market participants, advisers and products).The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a blueprint that can be used to define an organisation’s sustainability objectives. The World Economic Forum refer to this opportunity as the ‘great reset’. We all have a vested interest in averting further global crises. When boards are resetting their agenda to focus on new priorities, sustainability must be a key consideration in more ways than one.ConclusionOrganisations can expect further challenges in the months ahead. This is not ‘business as usual’ and boards are adapting as the situation unfolds. Whether an organisation is struggling or thriving in the uncertainty, key priorities for any pre-recovery strategy must include going concern, social responsibility, employee and public welfare, and sustainability.Níall Fitzgerald FCA is Head of Ethics and Governance at Chartered Accountants Ireland.

Jul 30, 2020
Financial Reporting

Gender equality is something many organisations speak about, but gender pay gap reporting will be the first real test of the effectiveness of those policies, writes Sonya Boyce.2020 has certainly been an interesting and unprecedented year for us all. We entered the new year in a position of relative economic prosperity with strong economic growth. Ireland was enjoying the lowest unemployment numbers in recent years, and gender balance was evident in many areas of the labour market. This was all threatened by the uncertainty, upheaval and challenges brought to our lives in March as the State sought to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on society.It is therefore welcome that the programme for our new Government, which was published in June 2020, contains a clear and renewed commitment to legislating for the mandatory reporting and publication of the gender pay gap for companies. This requirement is long overdue in Ireland and one our previous government failed to enact legislation for – notwithstanding the advancements in drafting the legislation.A quick recapThe gender pay gap is defined as the difference between what is earned on average by women and men based on the average gross hourly earnings of all paid employees – not just men and women doing the same job or with the same experience or working patterns. Gender pay gap reporting isn’t just about equal pay; it is part of a broader initiative to address female participation and employment gaps between genders. Gender pay gap reporting is seen as the first step in addressing parity in the employment market in terms of gender, particularly at the management level.The previous government’s Gender Pay Information Bill 2018 aimed to introduce mandatory gender pay gap reporting for public and private sector organisations in Ireland. This Bill was very much in line with similar legislation already introduced across several European countries, including Germany, France and Spain. Such legislative developments arose in response to the fact that women in the EU are currently paid, on average, over 16% less per hour than men. In Ireland, the average gender pay gap is 13.9% and COVID-19 stands to have a disproportionate impact on women in the labour market because of the higher proportion of women working in specific sectors of our economy, such as retail and hospitality. It is therefore vital that we maintain momentum in our efforts to introduce mandatory reporting for organisations and continue to focus on closing the gender pay gap.The path aheadIt is hoped that the introduction of gender pay gap reporting will provide organisations with an incentive to develop more focused strategies and initiatives to foster greater representation in their workforce – not only from a gender perspective but across the broader spectrum of diversity and inclusion.While there have been significant strides in gender equality, this has yet to become apparent at the senior levels of many organisations. To address this issue, organisations must review and assess their gender pay gap statistics regularly. Gender equality is something many organisations speak about and write policies on, but gender pay gap reporting will be the first real test of the effectiveness of those policies.ConclusionDiversity, equality and inclusion have a positive impact on organisations’ bottom line. Gender pay gap reporting provides a tangible metric that management can rely on to ensure women are paid fairly, are being considered for promotion, and are being promoted and attaining senior-level management positions.All organisations must commit to transparency around pay and progression for all employees. We urge our newly formed Government to introduce mandatory gender pay gap reporting without delay to ensure gender parity and fairness for all.Sonya Boyce is Director of Human Resources Consulting at Mazars Ireland.

Jul 30, 2020
Financial Reporting

Gemma Donnelly-Cox, Mary-Lee Rhodes, Benn Hogan and Mary Lawlor make the business case for corporate human rights reporting and outline critical issues for businesses to consider.Businesses can impact human rights in every context in which they operate. These impacts can be positive: delivering employment, infrastructure and furthering development. They can also be negative, bringing risks, including forced and child labour, pollution and corruption.Since 1 January 2017, all companies in Ireland to which the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) applies have been required to disclose information relating to respect for human rights, including human rights risks and due diligence processes. Over the same period, there has been an increased interest among investment managers, most notably in Europe, in the human rights performance of companies. Furthermore, mandatory human rights due diligence is coming down the tracks. On 29 April, the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, announced his intention to bring forward a legislative proposal in 2021 on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence.It would seem to be in the clear interest of companies to have a human rights policy and to undertake human rights reporting. Richard Karmel, Global Business and Human Rights Partner at Mazars UK, makes this case in saying (in correspondence with the authors): “Reporting on human rights isn’t a compliance area; it is about being authentic and meaningful in disclosing not only the actions that you have taken to address your greatest risk areas (salient risks) but also reporting on how you know this information. Companies shouldn’t view addressing human rights as an internal cost for external benefit; there is huge internal benefit – greater productivity, improved quality of supplies, less staff turnover and absenteeism, and the attraction of new recruits, for example. This is not a cost area, but one of investment and companies are very good at monitoring their return on investment.”However, when we looked at human rights reporting by Irish companies, we found a significant information gap. Very few of the companies we studied in Ireland include human rights performance in the policy statements or company reports they publish, including those prepared under the NFRD. This may be due in part to the limited guidance within the Directive on how companies should report on human rights, including due diligence.We consider here some of the factors driving human rights reporting, what is required in such reporting, and what it looks like when companies do it well.The UN Guiding Principles and the Irish national planIn December 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously adopted the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). These principles were the first agreed statement by UN member states following 40 years of attempts to clarify the relationship between business and human rights. Embedded in the UNGPs is the three-pillar ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework’, which sets out the duties of states to protect human rights, and the responsibilities of businesses to respect human rights and remedy failures. At a national level, a range of laws and ‘national action plans’ (NAPs) were created by member states seeking to embed these principles in company law and practice.Ireland’s NAP, published in 2017, recognises the need to, among other things, “encourage” companies to “develop human rights-focused policies and reporting initiatives”, “conduct appropriate human rights due diligence” and to consider a range of matters regarding access to remedy. An implementation group involving a wide range of stakeholders was established by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to progress the NAP and a baseline assessment of the Irish legislative and regulatory framework was produced.The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark and Irish company performanceIn 2019, the Trinity Centre for Social Innovation published Irish Business and Human Rights: Benchmarking Compliance with the UN Guiding Principles. Mark Kennedy, Managing Partner at Mazars Ireland, has described the report as “a first and important assessment of how companies are dealing with what is a vitally important business issue”. We reported on the results of our pilot study in which we applied the benchmarking methodology developed by the UK-based Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB). The CHRB conducts an annual assessment of 200 of the world’s largest publicly traded companies on a set of human rights indicators. The indicators consider:Commitments: what commitments does a company make to respect human rights, engage with stakeholders and remedy shortcomings?Responsibility, resources, and due diligence: what steps does a company take to embed responsibility and resources for day-to-day human rights, and to establish a due diligence process that encompasses:identifying human rights risks; assessing them; taking appropriate action on the assessed risks; and tracking what happens after action by monitoring and evaluating their effectiveness?Grievance mechanisms, remedy and learning: what grievance mechanisms are established for staff and external stakeholders? How are adverse impacts remedied, and how are the lessons learned incorporated?Our report applied these indicators to analyse human rights policies and reporting in 22 Irish companies that have international operations. Our source materials for the study were the companies’ publicly available information, as listed in Figure 1.We found that, by and large, the Irish companies in our study are not reporting fully or systematically, and therefore are failing to make their human rights performance visible. No company disclosed a human rights due diligence process, and no company had a publicly reported formal commitment to remedy adverse impacts caused by it to individuals, workers or communities.Where companies are reporting, what does an ‘exemplar’ look like? Adidas AG was ranked first in the 2019 global CHRB (see corporatebenchmark.org). Bill Anderson, Vice President, Global Social and Environmental Affairs at Adidas notes (in correspondence with the authors) that excellence requires transparency about human rights failures as well as successes: “John Ruggie, the author of the UNGP, offered a simple but powerful message to business: in order to meet societal expectations, businesses must both know, and show, that they are respecting human rights. Building policies and due diligence systems on human rights is only half the journey. If a company is to be accountable for its actions and decisions, it must strive for transparency. This can start with small steps, the publication of a statement and a commitment to uphold rights and in time, lead to more dedicated reporting measures on issues and remedies. It is always easy to present the good one is doing, but much harder to account for the negative impacts a company’s operations may have on people’s lives.”Human rights reporting is here to stayWhile few companies in our sample of 20 Irish companies reported systematically on human rights, and despite an apparent lack of awareness among them of the UNGP, and a lack of explicit compliance, our view is that awareness of the requirement to report is slowly gaining strength in Ireland. It makes business sense to know how to report and how to address areas that indicate less than ideal human rights performance.Companies reporting under the NFRD are likely to face a shifting environment in the coming years. The European Commission is currently conducting a review of the NFRD, with a proposal expected in Q4 of this year. As mentioned above, the EU is committed to bringing forward legislation on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence in 2021.Companies that get the basics right now by implementing policies and due diligence to prevent human rights abuses, instigating appropriate systems to remedy harms caused, and communicating their actions through non-financial reporting mechanisms will be well-placed to respond to this evolving regulatory landscape.We continue to benchmark Irish companies and in autumn 2020, will report on an expanded sample. We hope that benchmarking in Ireland will contribute to the impetus for improved corporate human rights reporting. Richard Karmel shares this view, noting that benchmarking “has an important role to play in the world of human rights reporting; after all, few companies want to be seen in the bottom quartile. Naturally, human rights benchmarks should stimulate a race to the top and ultimately encourage better treatment by business of those who are most vulnerable in our supply chains.”Gemma Donnelly-Cox, Mary-Lee Rhodes, Benn Hogan and Mary Lawlor represent the Centre for Social Innovation at Trinity Business School.

Jul 29, 2020
Sustainability

  A4S (Accounting for Sustainability) has launched a new guide for finance professionals on Management Information. The guide has been created to support finance professionals to develop and integrate the information needed to respond to social and environmental risk and opportunity into core management information processes. Integrating environmental and social considerations into management information processes can: Capture what’s important to stakeholders Provide insight to decision makers Safeguard and enhance financial performance for the present and the future The guide sets out practical steps that finance teams can take to develop an effective management information framework, build a robust control environment and produce insightful management reporting. It also contains illustrative examples to bring the guidance to life and show the benefits to different types of companies. “We are broadening the definition of what good management information is to capture the things that are important to stakeholders. By going beyond the traditional financial metrics, we will also safeguard and enhance our financials.” Clifford Abrahams, Chief Financial Officer, ABN AMRO "This guide provides lots of practical advice and should prove an invaluable resource to anyone who wants to help their organization provide the right information at the right time to the decision makers." Roger Seabrook, Vice President, Finance, Marketing and Sustainability, Unilever A4S is Prince Charles’ Accounting for Sustainability Project and was established in 2004 with the aim of promoting sustainable decision-making in business. On February 25, 2020, Chartered Accountants Ireland today became a signatory, along with 13 other accounting bodies worldwide to a call to action on climate change issued by A4S.     

Jul 21, 2020