As part of the journey to better sustainable reporting in 2024, a chief financial officer must understand how he or she can properly navigate around its implementation.
This can be enabled by various factors, such as a good planning process, reliable technology, and people in the organisation.
In implementing a good sustainability report, a plan needs to consider:
- systems development
- enhancing standard operating policies and procedures
- establishing a reporting hub comprising an interdisciplinary team of individuals charged with developing and maintaining the organisation’s overall corporate reporting process, and
- holding awareness sessions for internal and external stakeholders, and training.
The organisation should:
- set a clear strategy for using technology to facilitate sustainability reporting
- ensure the right level of governance is built into the technology, and
- assess the technology’s credibility.
The organisation should also consider whether the system’s design and functionality needs to:
- store data centrally and be able to integrate with the organisations’ internal sustainability-related policies and targets
- offer multiple data-input options
- perform automated checks
- be equipped with cybersecurity features and customisable access rights
- be equipped with data analytics and data visualisation capabilities, and
- be scalable and flexible to adapt to the organisation’s future needs and evolving reporting requirements.
People are enablers. In making sure they are available and prepared, the organisation should:
- make the case for investing in people for end-to-end development, implementation, reporting, assurance and use of sustainability-related information
- establish who is accountable and responsible for delivery as outlined in the earlier stage related to the RACI matrix
- create awareness and provide education on sustainability reporting and the necessary processes
- review the organisation design to ensure people are best placed to fulfil their roles by enhancing the connections between the risk management and finance functions, the access to external specialist resources including capabilities for different sustainability-related matters and reporting regimes, and the role and use of insights from the internal audit function
- engage and manage external stakeholders who must provide or will use sustainability-related information
- access, manage and retain talent to ensure the necessary skills, mindsets and behaviours to deliver quality sustainability-related information.