LONDON, NEW YORK, TORONTO, Sept. 28, 2011 /CNW/ - The Chartered
Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the American Institute of
Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and the Canadian Institute of
Chartered Accountants (CICA) today released a comprehensive
international research report underlining the growing emphasis small-
and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are placing on sustainability as it
becomes increasingly crucial to business performance.
SMEs Set Their Sights on Sustainability: Case Studies from the UK, US
and Canada, uses concrete examples to show how smaller companies can lead the
market and become champions of sustainable practice. It also reveals
how the finance function can play a central role in this process.
The report focuses on nine case studies - three each from the UK, US and
Canada - showing smaller companies who are taking different approaches
to the same core issues, all using sustainable practices to their
While compliance with regulatory requirements remains the most common
driver of business sustainability, profitability and other strategic
factors are increasingly significant. A sustainable business is more
robust and more efficient; it appeals to customers' changing values,
strengthens relationships with suppliers and positions the brand as a
good corporate citizen. It can reduce the variable costs of running a
business while driving profitability.
The report builds on a joint survey completed at the end of last year.
The survey by the three accounting bodies revealed that 33% of smaller
companies involved had a sustainability strategy in place, and an
additional 23% had plans to formulate a strategy in the next two years,
emphasizing that sustainability is a growing priority.
Sandra Rapacioli, Head of Sustainability at CIMA, said: "We are seeing a
shift in culture. SMEs are looking past survival and recognizing that
successful sustainability performance translates to long-term success.
Many are maximizing sustainability practices by also linking them to
short-term goals, such as cost efficiency and competitor differentiation."
"One leading UK stationery and business supplies provider is a great
example. Initially skeptical, the company has not only reduced energy
costs by an average of 5% year-on-year for the last four years, but has
also increased sales and profits by differentiating itself as a
Sue Coffey, AICPA Senior Vice President, Public Practice and Global
Alliance, said: "One of the lessons from the case studies is that
finance professionals often play a key role in defining and guiding
sustainability strategies, in part because they are used to navigating
different parts of a business and keeping an eye on the big picture.
It's one more example of the value the finance function can bring to an
By 'walking the talk', one US midsize bank has reduced its power
consumption by 40% with a solar installation, while maintaining a
profitable business model making commercially viable loans to customers
financing renewable and energy-efficient projects.
"Collaborative studies provide a valuable snapshot of what is happening
across several jurisdictions," stressed Nicholas Cheung, National
Practice Area Leader for Sustainability at CICA. "SMEs are interesting
to study because they usually have more agility than large
multinationals to make meaningful change and clearly demonstrate the
benefits that come with sustainable business practices."
A multifaceted Canadian food company profiled in the publication
maintains that sustainability is beneficial as people are looking for
companies that are doing something positive. The company makes a
profit, but it also goes into schools to teach children about growing
food and making healthy snacks, sources 90% of its produce locally,
consults with urban gardeners and funds community projects. The company
notes that people are less tolerant of operations just seeking to
maximize profit, and are looking for enterprises that are
environmentally and socially aware.
In many SMEs, finance professionals play a critical role in formulating
and implementing a sustainability strategy. They have the skills and
tools required to define the metrics that determine the effort's goals
and progress, and help foster the vital link between investment in the
strategy and the commercial benefit that accrues.
SMEs Set Their Sights on Sustainability: Case Studies from the UK, US
and Canada is available at www.cica.ca/sme-sustainability-2011.
Notes to Editors
Key findings on implementing sustainable business practices in SMEs
Strategy and planning:
Take a broad view of sustainability. Understand the key sustainability drivers and opportunities for your
organization. Finding innovative ways in which your company can be a
good corporate citizen will yield benefits.
Define in detail what sustainability means to your company. A clear definition to which everyone in the company can refer, and clear
success measures, are central to a sustainability policy.
Engage all stakeholders. Involvement in sustainability discussions allows their voices to be
heard, and the strategy will be more likely to meet everyone's needs.
Execution and alignment:
Remember that you are not alone. National, international and industry-wide initiatives exist to help
businesses become more sustainable. Engage and tap into their knowledge
Establish responsibility and communicate widely. Have senior management drive the policy, but appoint sustainability
champions and communicate the importance to every level of the company.
Take it step by step. Evolution not revolution.
Walk the talk! Customers and investors are wise to 'greenwashing', so never make the
mistake of seeing sustainability as purely a marketing exercise.
Performance and reporting:
Tie sustainability to profit. Resource efficiency, for example, benefits the environment and reduces
the cost of running a business.
Measure, monitor and review. Develop clear metrics, review them regularly and whether progress is
fast or slow, keep setting realistic attainable targets.
Invest in the future. Investing in sustainability does not always require huge capital
expenditure. Many SMEs say the largest investment is management time.
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, founded in 1919, is the world's leading and largest professional body
of Management Accountants, with 183,000 members and students operating
in 168 countries, working at the heart of business. CIMA members and
students work in industry, commerce, the public sector and
not-for-profit organizations. CIMA works closely with employers and
sponsors leading-edge research, constantly updating its qualification,
professional experience requirements and continuing professional
development to ensure it remains the employers' choice when recruiting
financially-trained business leaders.
Professionalism and ethics are at the core of CIMA's activities with
every member and student bound by rigorous standards so that integrity,
expertise and vision are brought together.
CIMA is proud to be the first professional accounting body to offer a
truly global product in the fast-moving area of Islamic Finance.
For more information about CIMA, please visit www.cimaglobal.com
Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CIMA_News
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (www.aicpa.org) is the world's largest association representing the accounting
profession, with nearly 370,000 members in 128 countries. AICPA members
represent many areas of practice, including business and industry,
public practice, government, education, and consulting; membership is
also available to accounting students and CPA candidates.
AICPA sets ethical standards for the profession and US auditing
standards for audits of private companies, nonprofit organizations, and
federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the
uniform CPA examination. The AICPA maintains offices in New York,
Washington, DC; Durham, NC; Ewing, NJ; and Lewisville, Texas. Media
representatives are invited to visit the AICPA press centre at www.aicpa.org/press
The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) represents Canada's CA profession both nationally and internationally.
The CICA is a founding member of the International Federation of
Accountants (IFAC) and the Global Accounting Alliance (GAA).
Chartered Accountants (CAs) are Canada's most valued, internationally
recognized profession of leaders in senior management, advisory,
financial, tax and assurance roles. Through their integrity, expertise,
and internationally recognized qualification standards, Canada's 78,000
CAs sustain their influence and leadership position both in Canada and
globally. As trusted business advisors to Canadian organizations of
all sizes, Canada's CAs foster confidence in Canadian business and
contribute to the health and sustainability of Canada's capital markets
and economy. For more information, visit www.cica.ca
SOURCE Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
For further information:
For media enquiries please contact:
Profile and Communications Officer, CIMA
T. +44 (0)20 8849 2427
Media Relations Manager, AICPA
T. +1 212 596 6122
Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA)