BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE FINANCE CULTURE
By Geraldine Matchett, Chief Financial Officer, Royal DSM
The role of the Chief Financial Officer and the finance team has never been more varied. The boundaries between teams, business units and different functions are becoming less relevant, with the role of finance having gone well beyond simple ‘record keeping’ to playing an important role in driving strategy and decision-making.
Finance teams, as the custodians of business value, need to enhance their contribution by including sustainability considerations in their day-to-day analyses and thinking. We are the forecasters of future performance and risk, and so can play a key role in bridging the gap between business growth strategy and sustainable planning. However, this integration between sustainability and finance is not yet the norm. For many finance teams, thinking and operating in an integrated way will require a significant shift, not just in their processes but also in their culture.
At Royal DSM, we fully recognize that addressing the threat of a changing climate on our planet and communities is becoming more urgent, and that organizations need to prioritize sustainable thinking – enabling both the opportunities and threats to be properly forecasted and embedded into decision making. As a CFO, I am a steward of capital allocation, value creation and resilience. Therefore, no one in the organization is better positioned to ensure sustainability is systematically considered as one of the drivers behind growth, cost efficiency, asset allocation and investment decision making. Yet to make this happen I need the rest of the finance team behind me.
As a CFO Leadership Network, we know that integrating sustainability into the "business as usual" processes is a task that cannot happen overnight. Buy-in from those involved is essential, and that buy in does not happen by accident. Our project team has therefore developed the A4S Essential Guide to Finance Culture. The guide includes suggested ways to work proactively with colleagues, especially in the finance team, to drive the necessary cultural change to embed sustainability as one of the core pillars of finance.
It aims to encourage finance teams to understand their role in embedding sustainability into their processes and provides tools to support the cultural change needed to do this. The members of the CFO Leadership Network have begun taking steps towards embedding sustainability at the heart of finance in their own companies. Following on from the guide, A4S are also holding implementation workshops around the world to provide further in-depth guidance. We very much hope you will join us on this important journey.