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“Sustainability is a team sport,” says ESG expert

Written on Mar 2, 2023

By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager  

ESG is an opportunity for CPAs to further cement their status as trusted business advisers, said one expert.  

“ESG is a critical business risk and opportunity today and the CPA profession is going to play a really important role in it,” said Mary Adams.  

Adams will present at the April 20th Strategic Finance & Accounting Conference on “Embedding ESG in value creation.” She said whether someone views ESG from a political perspective or not, the reality is insurance costs are rising as a result of risks ranging from extreme weather to social situations. If companies choose to ignore those risks, that doesn’t mean they will be immune from them.  

“The reason this becomes such a big deal is that a lot of stakeholders in the market, especially the institutional shareholders, have seen that there are systemic risks and opportunities that can't be ignored or diversified away,” she said.  

A company’s commitment to ESG can be seen if they’ve integrated it into their resource allocation or capital expenditure budget, Adams said.  

This is an opportunity for CPAs to play a more proactive and strategic role in the business, Adams said, because “financials don’t tell enough of the story anymore.”  

“But the discipline that you brought to financial reporting has applicability to the kind of discipline that's needed for these sustainability reports,” she said. “It’s going to broaden your perspective and your potential for playing a greater role in helping drive value creation, and innovation going forward.”  

ESG offers the opportunity to connect the dots between data points that could make a difference in a company’s long-term viability.  

“The real power is going to come when you can embed, not only the thinking, but the data throughout the company,” Adams said. “Because sustainability is a team sport. You must find ways for everybody to work together and collaborate.”