Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Barbara M Porco

Sustainability Reporting Toolkit: Lectures for Principles of Accounting

As a growing number of organizations integrate environmental sustainability into their business strategies, the traditional role of accountants is expanding to provide sustainability reporting coupled with conventional financial data reporting. Despite the growing demand for certified public accountants (CPAs) with sustainability measurements and reporting knowledge, fewer than two percent of universities currently offer accounting courses in this area. To be well-equipped advisors in this emerging discipline, future accountants will need to know how to measure and report sustainability activities. When companies register their securities with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), they are required to file audited financial statements annually, but currently no law exists in the United States that requires companies to disclose environmental, social, or governance (ESG) information. Despite the lack of compliance requirements, sustainability reporting has become increasingly important. Integrated reporting, where sustainability information is included in the evaluation of a company’s business performance, is a growing trend. Some 80 percent of the world’s 250 largest companies identify material sustainability issues in their reporting. As a result, the process of identifying material sustainability-related issues is a challenge for which businesses are increasingly seeking professional guidance. As more and more organizations engage in integrated reporting efforts, the demand for these unique new skills will continue to rise. Therefore accounting students should be offered courses that incorporate sustainability reporting and integrated reporting with an equivalent emphasis as is those currently offered in financial reporting. Furthermore, research indicates that educated professionals are more inclined to consider new innovative practices thus properly educating the newest members of the accounting profession will likely lead to improved and more innovative reporting policies. To support faculty in this emerging field, the Sustainability Reporting Toolkit provides three separate and easily adopted lectures for principles of accounting course.