The pillars of the ICAS sustainability strategy
‘ICAS must lead by example’, says Sarah Wilkin CA, Director of Sustainability at ICAS
Late last year, Sarah Wilkin CA was appointed as the new ICAS Director of Sustainability, a role that will inevitably grow in importance, not only for the organisation’s 2045 net-zero target, but also for members seeking to navigate the rapidly changing environment around sustainability reporting.
It’s an area in which Wilkin has a wealth of experience. She was featured two years ago in CA Magazine talking about her then role at the Collaborative for Frontier Finance, an organisation aimed at addressing the gap in funding for SMEs in emerging markets, where those smaller businesses are often key drivers of economic growth. Here Sarah Wilkin sets out the four key pillars of the ICAS sustainability strategy.
1) Advocacy and influence
We aim to be a trusted voice with government, standard setters, regulators, businesses and our own members. The main focus at the moment is the set of standards being produced by the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), along with the European standards coming out from the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group, and, to some extent, developments in the US with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
There’s an ongoing debate between the use of single materiality (what is financially material to the company) and double materiality (also considers the impact of the company) in sustainability reporting. At ICAS we advocate the use of double materiality, but we appreciate that may not happen overnight.
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has been working on standards, which incorporate impact, for 25 years. We see great scope for GRI standards to have more alignment with what ’s happening at the ISSB – they should be used in tandem. What we don’t want is for companies to be overburdened by having to report under multiple frameworks.
2) Learning and training
Once these new standards come out, we need to make sure that our members and our new students coming through the ICAS CA training programme are equipped to understand and deal with all this information.
We’re also in the process of updating our curriculum. We understand that our existing members sometimes need access to some of this knowledge. We want to build on our existing CPD courses and make sure that knowledge is always being kept up to date.
3) Social change
We are doing a lot of work with the ICAS Foundation, along with a couple of other organisations, including RedStart, which works with primary school children, and Rise, for which some of our staff have gone out to secondary schools. It’s about engaging with children in schools to raise awareness of accountancy as a profession and the role that they could play in it.
Coupled with that, we also have a strong focus on equality, diversity and inclusion within ICAS. We want to make sure the profession is truly reflective of society at large.
4) Leading by example
ICAS cannot stand up and talk about any of this without being able to answer the question of what we are doing to get our own house in order. We have developed our own net-zero strategy, which has been approved by the ICAS Council to achieve net zero by 2045. That’s mainly going to include working with suppliers in our supply chain, which represent the largest portion of our emissions, being “scope three” emissions relating to the goods and services that we purchase and use.
For more on this issue, visit the ICAS sustainability hub