CSR is core part of a new lexicon
As the world becomes increasingly aware of corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues, finance and accounting professionals who help their companies and clients to improve their CSR performance can also boost their own marketable skills.
"An awareness and capability to help companies with their CSR objectives are very useful additions to financial skills and attractive to companies that want to hire financial professionals to help them with their CSR objectives," says Paul Wappett, executive general manager of CPA Australia.
He says financial professionals, including certified public accountants (CPAs), are in an ideal position to help their companies develop an integrated corporate strategy based on CSR. They could also play a leading role in defining the cost benefits of such activities and making reporting a main priority. Wappett says through their role as controllers and finance supervisors, accountants can help organisations see the bigger picture by looking beyond a company's borders.
Within the banking and finance sector, banks are now looking at their own and their clients' performance, he adds. Therefore, companies that deliberately improve their CSR efforts are also in a better position to strengthen their relationship with their finance partners.
"The language of business around the world is changing. In addition to the bottom line, the focus now includes the impact that businesses have on society and the way we use resources," Wappett says.
It is evident from the number of professions among the participants at the CSR Asia Summit 2010, held in Hong Kong in September, that CSR is becoming a core issue.
Wappett says businesses need to measure success not just in terms of earnings and revenues, but also on what they're doing to protect the environment and help their communities.
He says CSR initiatives are more effective when they are extended to relations with a company's suppliers. After all, a strong commitment to CSR can help improve business performance, lower risks, and enhance reputation, employee motivation and organisational efficiencies. "Across the world, we are seeing household-name businesses expecting CSR as a minimum requirement in order to form trade relations with second and third parties," Wappett says.