Successfully engaging with your finance department can be the difference between having the budget to support your sustainability strategy and having to restrict your sustainability plans for another year.
But this is easier said than done. While having the necessary funds in place is a vital step to support your plans and ambitions, finance teams are under a lot of pressure to keep a tight rein on any expenditure.
So what can you do to move the conversation forward? Here are ideas on how you can start to build your case and engage with your finance department.
#1 Create a strong business case, which outlines tangible business benefits
Construct a strong strategy, which focuses on the benefits that sustainability will bring to the organisation. Depending on your priorities and industry, this could include:
Reducing the consumption and associated cost of energy and water
Decreasing the expense of business travel
Reducing the cost of sustainability reporting
Decreasing risk of compliance fines and audit exposures
As the above factors can cost companies millions each year, any strategy that seeks to reduce these should be of interest to finance.
#2 Use a pilot scheme to prove the value of your strategy to the organisation
Explaining your case is one thing. But having the data from a pilot scheme is even more compelling. If you can prove the ROI of a scheme, then this will make it more interesting for finance departments. Demonstrating that you can achieve your plans on budget and on time will help you to earn their trust and support. Even better, if you can get a third party to validate your results, this will make your case even stronger.
#3 Speak the language of finance to make your case
Changing the terms you use when speaking to finance can help you make your points more clearly. For example, if you talk about ‘improving resource efficiency’ rather than ‘sustainability’ or ‘CSR’ then this is more likely to resonate with them. Not only does this communicate your message in language that they will appreciate, it also helps to underline the benefits of your strategy to the organisation.
Discover how you can take the next steps to improve your sustainability reporting. Find out more about our CSR reporting module:
[Image Credit: 401(K) 2012]