22 April 2022

World Earth Day: What does today mean to your firm and your clients?

World Earth Day 2022 takes place today, Friday 22 April. It is a day to educate and encourage people to activate the environmental movement, but also to celebrate that little steps and individual actions can go a long way in promoting year-long action. The first World Earth Day took place in 1970, after US Senator Gaylord Nelson witnessed the ravages of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. By 1990, World Earth Day had gone global, mobilising 200 million people in 141 countries, and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage.

The theme for World Earth Day 2022 is #InvestInOurPlanet. Where better to start than with our members who are leaders in their professional communities when it comes to accountancy, audit and tax. Recent studies conducted by the Harvard Business Review show a direct correlation between sustainable business practices, share prices, and business performance. Companies who develop strong Environment Social Governance (ESG) standards have better profitability, stronger financials, and happier employees.

Our Morison Global Community of over 140 member firms across 74 countries perfectly demonstrates the sustainability journey. From firms who are taking their first steps, to those that are already in an advisory position of their own, our members are recognising the importance of sustainability both within their own business and for their clients. We spoke to members in Denmark, France and the US about the importance of World Earth Day for their firms.

Martin Therkelson, International Partner

At Revisionshuset Tal & Tanker in Silkeborg, Denmark, sustainability is a “big part” of their identity. The firm is participating in a major campaign, via the Buy 1 Give 1 network, which they have launched in relation to contributing to sustainable development throughout the world. International Partner Martin Therkelson spoke to us about why they have begun this journey.

“I find [World Earth Day] great with the focus on Mother Earth, but I also believe it’s more important having the focus 365 days a year, and not just on a single day in April. Post Corona I believe there will be renewed attention on sustainability and ESGs all over the world. In Tal & Tanker we recently visited our friends in Jyske Bank and had a talk with them about sustainability cross industries.” He also mentioned how he thought things may change in the near future, touching on worries many firms will share. “Furthermore, the European Union has agreed on new financial reporting requirements in the annual reports for ESGs that our clients will have to meet in 2025. This will have a huge impact on our clients and auditors as well. I’m not sure if our smaller clients are ready for this, nor if we are as auditors – and 2025 is just around the corner.”

Claire Le Meur, General Manager

In Lyon, France, Fifty Bees have taken several steps towards a sustainability goal. President, Delphine Michard-Grunwald, and General Manager of subsidiary Blue Bees, Claire Le Meur, discussed how their vision was in-line with this.

“Our societal ambition is a very strong value: we aim at being a local player in a fairer economy. We intend to be an altruistic company, which also contributes to the creation and development of businesses. To this end, we created the association Bees For Good, whose objective is to encourage the development of projects and events within our group to promote our values.”

They went on to outline the internal steps they have taken, highlighting how small simple changes can make a big difference. “We also strive on a daily basis to implement a certain number of actions in order to contribute to the preservation of the planet, at our level. First of all, teleworking, which is offered to all our employees three days a week, is one of the key measures that enable us to limit our energy consumption. We also encourage soft mobility (cycling, public transport, walking) and limit individual car travel by carpooling, whenever possible. In addition, our latest "Beesmobile" is a hybrid vehicle that favours electricity. We have also changed our daily habits - devil is in the details: we now prefer coffee beans to capsules, to serve our clients the famous French espresso... And we are very careful with our waste management: beware of those who don't use the right garbage can!”

They also referenced that the efforts had a correlating effect on employees’ happiness, as “The Bees have been awarded the Happy Index At Work 2022 accreditation by Choose My Company for the second year running!” and closed the discussion by mentioning “the three iconic beehives that adorn our roof terrace and thanks to which we produce 75 kg of honey each year that we offer our clients and prospects in glass jars designed by French artists - on this point, we can pride ourselves on having the 3rd best harvest in the county.”

Jennifer Cantero, Director of the Sensiba Center for Sustainability

Sensiba San Filippo (California, US) became a Certified B Corporation in 2018. B Corps are a new type of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. The firm was certified by the non-profit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency and have “evaluated how our practices impact our employees, our community, the environment, and our customers.”

On the subject of World Earth Day, Jennifer Cantero, Director of the Sensiba Center for Sustainability, said: “The environment and the health of our planet’s ecosystem is vital to everyone. It’s one of the many reasons SSF started the Sensiba Center for Sustainability. World Earth Day and Earth Month celebrations are so meaningful to help educate and draw much-needed attention to the immense issue of climate change. It allows individuals and businesses to refocus their efforts, no matter how small, to do more to salvage our home.”

The Sensiba Center for Sustainability is on a mission to help companies move to a purpose-driven, sustainable business model that includes social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. “Our vision is to create a world of purpose-driven companies that run on the quadruple bottom line principles of People, Planet, Profit, and Purpose.”

Through World Earth Day, the movement aims to drive a year of energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to create a new plan of action for our planet. Fifty Bees referenced Gaylord Nelson, the founder of World Earth Day, in our discussions. “There is a great need for the introduction of new values in our society, where bigger is not necessarily better, where slower can be faster, and where less can be more.” While a sustainability journey may seem daunting, small steps forward can take firms in the right direction.

Click here to contact the Morison Global Executive Office about any firms mentioned in this article.