The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), the international professional body behind the CMA and CSCA designations, released two papers today, discussing the expanding role of finance professionals in enterprise sustainability efforts.

The IMA’s reports include:

Finance Function Partnering for the Integration of Sustainability in Business

This C-suite report provides a practical framework for finance and accounting professionals to serve as active business collaborators in sustainability initiatives, enabling the CFO and the finance function to meet stakeholder demands regarding the integration of enterprise-wide sustainable business goals and activities,  by partnering with the company’s sustainable business team and other business units.

The C-suite report utilizes the Finance Partnering Framework, an approach introduced in 2014 by the IMA and ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) to help the corporate finance function lead cross-discipline collaboration to achieve shared organizational goals. Applying this approach to sustainable business initiatives, the report outlines three components to enable successful partnering:

  • Create a mandate for partnering on sustainable business activities
  • Fix the information by enhancing quality of data insights
  • Deploy the talent with the mindset to meet challenges

Commenting on the evolving role of the corporate finance function in sustainable business efforts, report co-author Shari Littan, CPA, JD, manager of corporate reporting technical activities at IMA, said:

“For years, there has been a perception that mainstream corporate finance and accounting professionals are uninvolved in sustainable business. While this is still the case at some companies, the majority are taking steps toward integrating new sustainable business initiatives. We observed that the leading companies that have made the most progress actually involve the CFO and finance function significantly.”

CFO as Value Creator: Corporate Finance and Accounting Leadership in Sustainable Business and the Integrated Enterprise

This report is presented as a white paper providing insights about the finance professional’s role in sustainable business, through qualitative interviews conducted with senior executives in multiple industries. Supporting the framework outlined in the C-suite report, the paper tracks the evolution of the role of the CFO from one focused primarily on compliance, to a role now involving governance, strategy, and operations as companies increasingly pursue sustainable business activities and adopt an integrated enterprise approach.

Introducing the white paper, Littan commented:

“For the white paper, we went and spoke to professionals from large companies that are noted for this progress. We asked what IMA’s primary constituents – accountants and finance professionals in business – are actually doing to help their organizations with these activities, and we learned that they are quite involved, much more than even we expected. What we learned from these interviews is that the CFO and finance function are developing internal processes that allow them to bring their expertise and specialized skill set to work across the organization.”

Click here to see the full IMA reports.