Can Accounting ‘Help Build A Sustainable Economy?’

Initiating standards and enlisting an auditing body to oversee the environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues or “nonfinancial information” as it’s commonly referred, similar to the standards used to oversee financial information is ‘fundamental’ in establishing a ‘Sustainable Economy’, suggests Robert G. Eccles, a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School and the first Chairman of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

In a recent interview conducted by Eben Harrell from The Harvard Business Review, Eccles points out that just as it was a massive undertaking to establish accounting standards, which were mandated with the establishment of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the 1930s, “it will be hard work [but] yes it can be done.”  Eccles adds, “Just as we wouldn’t have the capital markets we have today without financial accounting standards, we won’t have the capital markets and society we want for tomorrow without sustainability accounting standards.”

As owner of Chuckanut Builders (a green builder based in Bellingham, WA) Ian Rae’s made a commitment to ‘buying local’.  As such he tracks  geographically where their dollars are being spent and reportedly between 2013 – 2014 spent 90% locally in Whatcom County.  Rae said, “anytime you’re tracking something like this it makes you more motivated to improve,” reported Oliver Lazenby in his 2015 Bellingham Business Journal (BBJ) article, “Accounting for sustainability: businesses learn to measure more than profit“.

Can accounting really “help build a sustainable economy?”  Certainly in the case of Chuckanut Builders, yes it can.

Worth noting, Harrell reports, that along with the SASB, “there are other sustainability accounting initiatives including the Climate Disclosure Standards Board, Global Reporting Initiative, the International integrated Reporting Council and others, all of which are doing important work extending corporate reporting beyond financial accounting.”

Interested in using QuickBooks to track your sustainability efforts?  Call Chris McGee at (360) 303-5798 and learn more.

Read Harrell’s full article HERE.

ProFound Impact (PFI) is a division of Business Support Services (BSS) Northwest, LLC based in Bellingham, WA. Payroll, Bookkeeping and QuickBooks Help & Solutions for Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish Counties and remotely through WA, OR, & AK.