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Catalyst for Sustainability

By J. Stephen McNally, CMA, CPA
April 1, 2022

Living in northwest Ohio, along the Maumee River, which is a designated Ohio State Scenic River, has many benefits.

 

My family and I have walked our dog, hiked, and camped along the river. We’ve gone tubing, kayaking, waterskiing, and, of course, rowing on it. The Maumee is the largest watershed of any river feeding the Great Lakes, supplying roughly 5% of Lake Erie’s water. It’s 220 kilometers long and flows from Fort Wayne, Ind., through Toledo, Ohio, into Lake Erie. And, being two-thirds farmland (mostly corn and soybeans), the Maumee watershed is considered Ohio’s breadbasket.

 

Unfortunately, due to environmental contamination, a portion of the river was designated a Great Lakes Area of Concern under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1987. These concerns were underscored in 2014 when Toledo officials issued a two-day ban on drinking and cooking with tap water due to toxic algal bloom in western Lake Erie. The impact of these algal blooms, for me as a rower, have been quite personal, especially when trying to clean my boat and oars after rowing through them.

 

IMA® represents nearly 140,000 members in more than 150 countries. Regardless of where you live or the business you’re in, the call for sustainable business management (i.e., “operating in a way that recognizes resources are limited and valuable”) has been growing louder. That said, I believe management accounting and finance professionals are distinctively qualified to facilitate building resilient, sustainable businesses. We can be the catalyst for sustainability within our respective organizations.

 

As described in the IMA Management Accounting Competency Framework, our unique combination of knowledge, skills, and abilities include strategy, planning, and performance; reporting and control; technology and analytics; business acumen and operations; and leadership, all supported by a foundation of professional ethics and values. By leveraging these core competencies, we’re able to provide valuable insights and the right perspective needed to make, in conjunction with our cross-functional partners, strategic, sustainable business decisions. We’re also able to track and report progress—and identify early warning signals if course correction is needed—to ensure these sustainability goals are ultimately achieved.

 

To become a catalyst for sustainability, though, first you need to build your personal awareness and knowledge. Start by reading this month’s Strategic Finance magazine, which is focused on sustainability. Then check out IMA research reports such as Sustainability CFO: The CFO of the Future?, Finance Function Partnering for the Integration of Sustainability in Business, and Leveraging the COSO Internal Control—Integrated Framework to Improve Confidence in Sustainability Performance Data. Next review IMA’s Statement of Position on Sustainable Business Information and Management and Management Accountants’ Role in Sustainable Business Strategy: A Guide to Reducing a Carbon Footprint. Also consider taking IMA’s online “Sustainability and Value Creation” course or listening to Count Me In podcast episodes such as “How do CFOs influence ESG?” or “ESG from a Finance Perspective.” Finally, keep tabs on IMA’s Sustainable Business Management Global Task Force.

 

Now go support your organization in identifying, justifying, and investing in sustainable initiatives. Be a catalyst for the greater good!

 

J. Stephen McNally, CMA, CPA, is CFO of Plastic Technologies Inc. (PTI) Group of Companies and Chair of the IMA Global Board of Directors. He’s also a member of IMA’s Toledo Chapter. Contact Steve at steve.mcnally@imanet.org, or follow him on LinkedIn.
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