Why sustainability is a cross-departmental issue

17 January 2024
Mario Matthys Expert Practice Leader CFO Services (Pragmatic Advisory & Implementation) Connect on Linkedin

[ESG Blog Post #2] Sustainability is not the exclusive domain of Finance, Operations or Sales. The European Union’s (EU) Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) cuts across all departments and requires them to work together. In this second blog post in our series on ESG-related topics, CFO Services expert Mario Matthys shares his views on a cross-departmental approach to ESG.

Silo-free sustainability

We need to eliminate silos and start working across departments to approach sustainability in a holistic way. Sustainability is a cross-departmental issue and cannot be compartmentalized into different silos. Change needs to happen in every department, from Sales to HR.

How, you ask? The initial step is to involve your company’s key stakeholders. It is the responsibility of management to develop a strategy for collecting input on certain qualitative and quantitative metrics, that aligns with the issues that stakeholders find important.

Change needs to happen in every department, from Sales to HR

Mario Matthys, Expert Practice Leader Corporate Reporting, TriFinance

Departmental process owners are the primary contacts for tracking data requirements

There's no single answer to who does what in sustainability reporting. Different companies have different organizational structures and different ways of working. In my opinion, non-financial data reporting should be led or guided by the Finance department. They have existing processes and frameworks in place to collect, process and report the data in a timely matter. Companies can also choose to establish a sustainability team to coordinate sustainability reporting.

Though the Finance or the Sustainability team may be responsible for the reporting, that does not mean the content of the reports is solely Finance’s. Sustainability is a cross-departmental issue requiring collaboration by all departments. Non-financial data comes from various departments, like HR, procurement, operations, sales, legal, IT, etc. Without cross-departmental collaboration, sustainability reporting is simply not possible.

It is useful to go through the data requirements listed in the EU’s ESRS and link departmental process owners to the data requirements. They are the primary contacts for tracking data requirements. Based on a Sustainability Reporting Framework (the “company ESG bible”), process owners will know what, how, and when to report. These process owners will not work exclusively on data requirements. Again: collaboration is crucial

Awareness across the entire organization is critical

Mario Matthys, Expert Practice Leader Corporate Reporting, TriFinance

Extra workload, or opportunity?

Ultimately, companies need to look beyond compliance when it comes to sustainability reporting. To achieve this, awareness throughout the organization is critical. Sustainability reporting should be explained to all employees. Share the significance of sustainability reporting and emphasize how it can be seen as an opportunity rather than additional workload.