Citizens, governments, CEOs, regulators, and investors are all asking fundamental questions about the changing role of business in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. The climate crisis, COVID-19 pandemic, and social equity movements have rapidly evolved the global conversation on value.

beautiful landscape

More and more, it’s becoming clear: organizations, including Accenture, need to move past narrowly defined financial views of value. For Accenture, our goal is to create 360° value for all our stakeholders, focusing not only on financial goals but also on multiple dimensions of value, such as sustainability, inclusion and diversity, talent, and more. In turn, organizations must redesign the way they work and communicate on a spectrum of financial and non-financial topics to build trust through transparency.

This shift is increasingly driving ESG reporting into mainstream regulatory reporting to enable it to be transparent. We believe that transparency builds trust and helps us all make more progress. For this reason, it is critical to accurately and reliably capture and report ESG data with confidence to all stakeholders. This need necessitates fundamental changes to core business processes and data capture.

From good to great

I see Accenture as going from good to great in ESG reporting. We already have comprehensive ESG reporting in place today. As part of that, we identify ESG priorities for all our key stakeholders, set industry-leading goals and commitments, evolve them, put targeted actions in place and are transparent on our progress.

Not only do we publish and have published for years a comprehensive United Nations Global Compact: Communication on Progress, but we also have expanded our ESG reporting with three additional ESG frameworks—the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and, and the World Economic Forum International Business Council (WEF IBC) metrics—while continuing to report against the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards, the United Nations Global Compact’s (UNGC) Ten Principles, and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

Given the shifting reporting landscape around ESG issues, we are elevating our reporting. We are focusing on the quality of our ESG data and driving consistency in reporting ESG data that is core to our business and strategy across our mainstream reports (annual report with Shareholder Letter and 10-K, Proxy Statement, and UNGC report). We are also increasing transparency on our ESG priorities and relevant issues through the alignment with new frameworks.

Data assurance and quality

Stakeholders inside and outside organizations need to have confidence in the information reported to make good business decisions—just as they do with financial data. Our goal is to institutionalize ESG data so that it is as reliable and consistent as financial information. This institutionalization includes good governance over policies, systems, internal controls, and assurance, which are all components of the foundation for data accuracy.

As part of our governance over ESG data, we created a dedicated team within Controllership to focus on the integrity of reported ESG information across all channels of reporting. Our team has collaborated across the company to evaluate the end-to-end quality and integrity of our data. This effort includes looking at data sources and collection processes, identifying risks in producing accurate data, and then partnering with our business owners to enhance systems and processes. In addition, we’re working closely with the business to confirm they have the data they need to drive change and make sound business decisions.

We are leveraging Accenture’s centralized core systems, including a single global instance of SAP and a single global instance of Workday to facilitate reliable, real-time reporting. This single instance best practice enables us to be efficient in gathering data. It also helps us raise the bar on the quality of our ESG data.

An Accenture-wide design

To achieve our company-wide objective of increasing transparency of our ESG strategy and goals across our mainstream reporting channels, we established collaboration Accenture-wide from the start. We defined a road map and a value approach for all our stakeholders. Our team also redesigned Accenture’s communications approach, creating an integrated value reporting experience—one complete, holistic, and comprehensive digital hub from which anyone can explore the world of what we do and who we do it for. We call it the Accenture 360° Value Reporting Experience.

Driving ESG objectives forward

Organizations, including Accenture, strive to demonstrate that they are purposeful about sustainability, hold strong ethical standards and look to operate responsibly in everything they do. Enhancing ESG reporting will provide accountability and transparency in achieving these objectives.

Companies should take actions now to ensure they are ready to report on what is important and relevant to their business and their stakeholders, including government and regulatory requirements. These actions include establishing the appropriate internal controls, processes, and systems to accurately and reliably capture data. Actions also include expanding ESG reporting capabilities through centralized systems and more real-time solutions, analytics, and dashboards. Ultimately, we believe ESG reporting needs to be performed with the same rigor as is done for financial reporting today.

Richard Clark

Chief Accounting Officer & Chief Transformation Officer, Business Enablement

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