According to a survey conducted by British multinational professional services network Deloitte, 52% of Irish chief financial officers (CFOs) identify the absence of in-house reporting capabilities as the primary obstacle to implementing their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting strategy.
While Irish CFOs are growing more optimistic, talent attraction and retention remain their top concern, which, in turn, is impeding progress in ESG reporting and digital finance transformation initiatives.
Orla Dunbar, the sustainability data & technology lead, highlighted the significance of ESG reporting as one of the crucial tasks for organisations: “Consistent with the idea that what we can’t measure, we can’t improve, ESG reporting is one of the most important tasks facing organisations.
“It’s clear that a skilled workforce is one of the critical steps in enabling ESG reporting, so it’s vital that businesses foster an environment of continual learning and focus on hiring the right talent.”
In addition to the internal challenges, 48% of Irish CFOs believe that the absence of a global standard for ESG reporting acts as a barrier to implementing their reporting strategy.
Establishing a global standard for ESG reporting is considered a vital step in building confidence in the process, and developments are expected in this area with the finalisation of ISSB standards and improved interoperability between global requirements such as CSRD and SEC regulations.
The survey also revealed that 29% of Irish CFOs have explored the development of tax control frameworks to manage tax risk due to the increasing demand for transparency and accountability related to ESG concerns.
Ireland’s highly skilled workforce has made the country an attractive destination for companies, with 42% of Irish CFOs predicting a significant or moderate increase in their employee numbers, surpassing the European average of 35%.
Daniel Gaffney, partner and CFO programme lead at Deloitte, acknowledged the challenging economic conditions: “While an uncertain economic future and the cost-of-living crisis has made the past six months challenging for businesses, there are plenty of positive indicators in this survey. The anticipated growth in revenues and operating margins, a drop in the inflation rate, as well as Ireland continuing to offer a skilled workforce, are all strong reasons for an optimistic outlook.”
A link to the full survey can be found here.
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