The accountancy and finance profession has a key role to play in driving a journey toward social equity while organisations need to transition to a sustainable future that embraces the economic, environmental and social aspects in combination, said ACCA recently.
Society faces long-term challenges from social injustice, with stakeholders and regulators increasingly focusing on the social implications of the actions of organisations — this is one of the reasons why this matters to the accountancy and finance profession as well as organisations, the accountancy body observed.
The accountancy and finance profession also needs to see this as an opportunity to define its future role and put the social agenda at the core of the profession, ACCA said.
In addition, performance-management processes need to reflect the strategic goals of organisations, and finance teams need to embrace this, ACCA noted.
Without this rigour — together with external assurance obligations in reviewing controls over performance — trust will dissipate if the profession fail to ensure a just transition, the accountancy body added.
While measuring the social agenda is difficult, ACCA said that accounting and finance professionals must act.
“The social agenda is a broad one and requires organisations to act now,” said Helen Brand OBE, ACCA chief executive. “Without the valued and proactive input of the accountancy and finance profession, the goal of reaching sustainability for all organisations will be unattainable. The profession has an opportunity to play its full part in enabling the just transition, not least the social aspect – one that it cannot afford to shirk.”
The social agenda might not be immediately seen as a cost, but the concept of value is one that is increasingly relevant to finance professionals, ACCA observed.
“For example, we tend to view staff as a cost in organisations, yet without these team members there is no value created,” ACCA said. “For many organisations people in their organisations and their value chain are their significant differentiator.”
How organisations measure the return to society of their activities can no longer be ignored, ACCA advised.
Defining and measuring value is becoming as important as the financial objectives on their own, ACCA pointed out.
Though the measurement of it may be complex, it underpins why organisations exist, ACCA said.