Change of Plan

Going green presents challenges and opportunitites for CFOs.

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Welcome to the inaugural issue of Insight, CFO Europe’s new series of quarterly supplements looking at the challenges facing you and your finance team.

This quarter we explore business and the environment. Even in the current economic crisis, it’s a hot topic: when a recent survey questioned 750 companies, most saw corporate social responsibility (CSR) not as a cost, but a core part of their business, driving innovation and, in turn, profit.

With so many green agendas vying for their attention, there’s a big role for CFOs to play in helping to prioritise which will have the greatest impact on their company’s financial and ethical performance. Here, we offer advice on the financial aspects of green business, such as how to manage your business-travel policy (“Road to Reform”) and why more companies will be making their real-estate portfolio environmentally friendly (“Building Up”). There are some surprising lessons. Looking for environmentally friendly IT products? Watch out for “greenwashing” from vendors hyping up the environmental credentials of their products or services (“Hype or Hope”). Wondering how to bulk out your next CSR report? Question instead whether environmentally aware shareholders would prefer a shorter physical document and head online for the details (“Natural Light”).

Along the way, CFOs detail their views and experiences of getting to grips with going green. If they encourage you to change your company’s approach to these matters, your balance sheet may benefit too. After all, as Richard Cameron, a divisional CFO at UK telecoms group BT, points out, when it comes to the environment it can be cheaper for companies to do something than nothing. Enjoy the issue.

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