COVID-era commitments create new challenges for Ontario businesses leading up to reporting season, says new report
TORONTO, January 20, 2021 - A rapid and substantial shift towards social impact and risk reporting is underway, driven by the covid-19 pandemic and a year of social upheaval.
Changing expectations of corporations by investors, employees and consumers are forcing companies of all sizes to increasingly account for social risk - the material risks to a company from major social trends – pushing sustainability further into the orbit of finance departments.
As we approach financial reporting season, measuring and reporting on the ‘S’ in ESG will be a key focus for companies throughout the economy.
In response, a new report entitled CPAs and the New Social Contract: The Rise of the Warrior Accountant suggests that Ontario’s professional accountants should step up to the plate and use their expertise in measuring and disclosing company information to improve sustainability reporting.
“When it comes to bridging the worlds of ESG and business strategy, no one has all the answers – but our profession can play an important role,” says Carol Wilding FCPA, FCA, President and CEO of CPA Ontario. “By progressing ESG measurement and impact, ‘warrior accountants’ can substantively change business and society for the better by providing standardized forms of measurement to help quantify the results of what can often be fuzzy corporate pledges.”
As Ontario prepares to “build back better,” companies must consider how best to align their business strategy to this new reality, especially in light of recent findings by impact data analytics firm The S-Factor Co. on 900 Ontario-based, publicly traded companies which showed, on average, they were underperforming on ‘social factor performance’.
The report delivers insights from interviews with more than 40 business leaders, many of them CPAs, on what the explosion of interest in social impact and risk will mean for firms and professional accountants in Ontario.
It will launch with a special virtual event this afternoon (Wednesday, January 20) featuring best-selling author and economist, Dr. Dambisa Moyo. “Corporations are already moving away from ring-fenced departments for corporate social responsibility and a pure financial-shareholder model,” says Moyo. “Accountants play a key role in refining metrics that gauge progress and embrace reporting on issues about the broader community.” In her speech, Dr. Moyo will address how business leaders are responding to these evolving expectations of corporations from investors, employees and consumers.
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