CFOs launch guidance for finance teams ahead of COP26 to support board action on sustainable business

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LONDON and TORONTO, Oct. 29, 2021 /CNW/ – To equip chief financial officers (CFOs) and finance teams with the tools to drive action on sustainability within their organizations, an international group of CFOs, part of Accounting for Sustainability (A4S), have launched the ‘Essential Guide to Engaging the Board and Executive Management’

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada logo (CNW Group/CPA Canada)

With the impacts of climate change continuing to intensify, there is a growing need for businesses to integrate sustainability considerations into all levels of decision making. The guide empowers organizations with a roadmap to make meaningful and long-lasting change.

With detailed guidance, step-by-step checklists and case studies, this guide illustrates how finance teams can use regular board activities to embed social and environmental risk and opportunity into strategy and decision making. Focusing on a three-step process of ‘prepare’, ‘engage’ and ’embed and improve’, the guide highlights four key areas where a finance team can influence its board and executive management: business strategy and planning; governance and risk management; corporate development and investment; and corporate reporting and internal controls.

The CFOs developing the guidance are part of the Canadian Chapter of the A4S CFO Leadership Network, which is supported by Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).

Jessica Fries, chairman of A4S commented, “In the run up to COP26, we are hearing a lot of words and commitments, but how can we tell what constitutes real change within a business? Action on climate change and other pressing social and environmental issues can’t be done through a project here or there, it needs to be engrained within the structure of a business, starting at the top. This guide will help organizations do just that – by helping finance teams to communicate sustainability as a driver of value and ensure it is placed at the very heart of a company’s governance and strategy.

“The guide offers practical solutions and examples to enable CFOs and finance teams to make sustainable business, business as usual.”

“As the guide demonstrates, accounting professionals, executives and boards of directors have a responsibility to ensure that strategy around sustainability is clearly defined, implemented and improved from the very top of an organization,” said Charles-Antoine St-Jean, CPA Canada president and CEO. “We hope the guide encourages discussion among all communities, from investors to employees, on this critical issue.”

The guide shows how an engaged board and executive management can bring a myriad of financial benefits to a business, including growth opportunities, cost savings, an improved organizational reputation, increased investor interest and access to new sources of finance.

Practical examples included in the guide are from organizations such as British Land, Brookfield, Manulife, TELUS, Watercare and Yorkshire Water, all demonstrating how fostering board and executive engagement has helped reshape and increase sustainability within their organizations. 

The full guide can be found at

About Accounting for Sustainability (A4S)

Our aim is to make sustainable business, business as usual. HRH The Prince of Wales established A4S in 2004 to work with the finance and accounting community to inspire finance leaders, transform financial decision making and scale up action to transition to a sustainable economy. 

A4S CFO Leadership Network

  • A4S’s CFO Leadership Network brings together influential CFOs from large global organizations to show personal leadership on sustainability.
  • The Network was launched by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2013 and now has chapters in Europe, Canada and the USA, as well as active regional circles of practice throughout the world including Brazil, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
  • The aim of the Network is to encourage collaboration and insight sharing among its members, helping them to solve their challenges when it comes to sustainability in business, develop their finance teams, scale-up action and adopt a leadership stance, influencing others to take action.
  • Its member organizations currently represent combined total assets of US$3.8 trillion.

The Canadian Chapter of the CFO Leadership Network

  • A4S has partnered with CPA Canada to run the Canadian Chapter.
  • The Canadian Chapter is developing a number of projects to address key challenges for organizations in Canada and others around the world.

About Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) works collaboratively with the provincial, territorial and Bermudian CPA bodies, as it represents the Canadian accounting profession, both nationally and internationally. This collaboration allows the Canadian profession to champion best practices that benefit business and society, as well as prepare its members for an ever-evolving operating environment featuring unprecedented change. Representing more than 220,000 members, CPA Canada is one of the largest national accounting bodies worldwide.


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