This is my fifth article of the series “The Green CFO” and so far, I must say I am pleased for the response of the readers. Yet, I still perceive some skepticism among some of my finance colleagues. As I titled this article, a green CFO is above all a CFO. The symbolism of the green adjective is very powerful, but we should never forget what our responsibility in the company is.
In this context, I would like to emphasize some of the key success factors to become a great finance business partner but adapted to your journey to become a Green CFO.
- Be authentic: Most likely the golden rule of any leadership role. If you are (still) not convinced about the importance of sustainability for the finance function, do not try to emulate what others peers are doing. Your time will (hopefully) come eventually but becoming a Green CFO starts by believing on the journey.
- Promote innovation: CFOs are usually sponsors of digital projects, including ERP implementations. However, innovation is not only about digitalization. Embedding sustainability into the core business through an initiative led by Finance is a very pioneering approach that will be surely appreciated by your CEO.
- Anticipate the future: The number of changes in terms of sustainability finance in the coming months are just massive. I usually illustrate the situation by comparing with the implementation of IFRS16 a couple of years ago. Those who are not even informed about the revolution coming in the sustainability reporting area will suffer.
- Demonstrate integrity: Considering that ISSB (International Sustainability Standard Board) is now part of IFRS, and envisioning the changes that the new CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) will bring to companies, including the specific guidance on the so-called non-finance report, I firmly believe that in the short future being the guardian of the finance compliance will not be able to be understood without a deep sustainability knowledge.
- Drive productivity: This is most likely the factor that will be bring more added value to your company. Moreover, getting additional funds will not only improve your EBITDA but it will also place you as a respected asset for the company. Indeed, sustainability has a lot of potential in terms of savings. For example, replacing traditional electricity consumption by solar panels or other self-generation power resources.
One last reflection I would like to share, especially for the skeptical audience. I recently heard (again) the story of the boiling frog that I am sure you also know. I think that this metaphor can be very well applied to illustrate the importance of being aware of the corporate risks driven by the climate change, despite those risks are not coming suddenly, like the pandemic, but very slowly. Gradual speed of a risk does not mean the risk is less threatening.