There have historically been questions around whether or not treasuries can actively contribute towards their companies’ sustainability objectives. However, in an age where sustainable financing has become more readily available, treasuries now have a seat at the table and are more engaged in helping to drive the sustainability agenda for their firms. As an HSBC representative explains, there are several other areas that corporate treasurers can focus on in today’s environment to influence their sustainability goals positively.
In less than twenty years corporate ethics have risen dramatically from something that a handful of large corporates did under the corporate social responsibility (CSR) mantra in a relatively low key manner, to a more comprehensive sustainability approach that is a frequent discussion topic in numerous boardrooms globally. KPMG’s most recent Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting  underlines this point by revealing that formal reporting of CR performance among the G250  has risen from 37% of companies in 1999 to 93% in 2017. In a survey commissioned by HSBC, East and Partners found that three quarters of European investors judge companies on their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) credentials. This increased investor focus has led board members to identify the different types of sustainability measures the various parts of the business can take, and treasury is no exception.
So what can treasury do?
These and numerous other examples of the rise of an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) approach to capital management suggest that this is a trend that will persist and extend into smaller corporates as well (the KPMG report revealed a similar CR reporting growth trajectory among N100 companies to that of G250 corporates .) In this sustainability-positive environment, every part of a corporation - including treasury - is expected to help advance the corporation’s strategic sustainability aims. But what practical CSR steps can treasury actually take?