Clarissa Van Emmenes
At Cogo, we believe that the only way we’ll be able to make a meaningful difference is by going at it together; climate action is a team sport. And as we do in all areas of our business, we walk the talk through our partnerships by forging purposeful connections with organisations that share this sentiment, so they can join us in our pursuit to change the world.
One of these recent partnerships is with Xero, whom we partnered with to launch the Cogo Business Carbon Manager on the Australian Xero App Store. Through this partnership, we’ve enabled hundreds of small and medium businesses in Australia to take the next step in measuring, understanding and reducing their impact on people and the planet.
We recently sat down with Tamara Somers, Xero’s Director of Sustainability, to talk about Xero’s sustainability journey, why sustainability matters for small businesses, and why integrating carbon footprint measurement in their accounting practices will help them build more resilient, profitable and future-ready businesses.
I’ve been working in this space for about ten years now and with Xero for a little over a year. I love working within corporate sustainability because it’s an opportunity to really shape the impact of some of the largest economic actors to drive positive outcomes. In my role, I work across Xero to drive cross-organisational projects that implement our overarching sustainability objective: to build stakeholder trust through responsible management of our community and environmental impact and through policies and practices that enable our people and customers to thrive.
I’m really passionate about helping Xero to amplify its impact by helping our small business customers to become more sustainable, too. 90% of the world’s businesses are small and medium sized businesses; the opportunity to scale positive impact through the Xero platform is huge, and that really excites me.
Xero’s purpose is to make life better for people in small businesses, their advisors and communities around the world, and sustainability is an integral part of that. Our responsibility as a sustainable organisation spans across everything we do as a business, from our people to our customers, to our products and partnerships.
Like everyone, we’re on a journey with sustainability, and we’re proud of our progress so far, but there’s always more to do when it comes to managing our impact on people and the planet.
Xero’s approach to sustainability is integrated into our long term strategy, the fabric of our company culture and how we make decisions across the business. It’s closely tied to our values, particularly ‘human’ and ‘ownership’ - we’re committed to acting with integrity and authenticity and to being transparent about what we do and how we do it.
We know sustainability and taking positive climate action is on the radar for small businesses. A Xero survey found that 68% want to operate more sustainably, but many don’t know where to start.
Many businesses aren’t aware that they even produce a carbon footprint, especially very small or micro-businesses or those who work from home. Many people aren’t sure of the activities in their business that contribute to their carbon footprint. So we want to help educate them, so they can understand where carbon emissions come from and how they can be reduced through a number of small actions.
For accountants and bookkeepers, our research shows that while three quarters don’t yet provide sustainability advisory services, 70% would like to expand their service lines. By educating and upskilling in this area, advisors can diversify their services and add value to their client’s businesses in new ways.
Some accountants are already leveraging this opportunity by completing sustainability-related certifications and assurance requirements. As financial professionals, their skills in data collection, verification, assurance, audit and reporting are very applicable to the carbon certification space.
Some examples of sustainability advisory we’ve seen with our partners are sustainability audits, supply chain assessments, fleet transition support and, more broadly, carbon measurement and management.
We don’t expect every small business owner to take this on alone. Tackling the climate crisis is a global challenge that affects everyone and will only be achieved through collaboration. At Xero, we’re committed to partnering with others to help our customers get access to tools that can help them take action.
Through our partnership with Cogo, we aim to enable advisors to expand the conversation with their clients to include measuring and improving sustainability practices in their business goals and strategy. The benefits will come from small businesses working together with their accountant or bookkeeper, using tools and resources to understand their impact, and then identifying and implementing more sustainable ways of operating in their business.
The helpful resources we’re providing through our partnership are a great place for small businesses to start to gain an introduction to environmental sustainability. When they’re ready to take the next step, tools like the Cogo Carbon Business Manager app give small businesses and their advisor's access to data, insights and advice that they can work through together and make changes that work for their business.
Making these changes not only benefits a business’s bottom line, but it also gives them a competitive advantage. I love that the app also allows customers to share their progress. Showing that you’re taking positive climate action builds trust and credibility and, in turn, helps attract and retain customers.
We’ve been really pleased by the response, particularly from our accounting and booking partners, to making carbon accounting available for our customers.
The businesses that have connected their financial data from Xero with the Business Carbon Manager app have continued to review their baseline footprint and have also committed to a range of emissions reductions actions to help reduce their footprints over time.
Any meaningful climate action for small businesses really starts with the ability to measure your baseline emissions, so looking ahead, we’re excited about making more targeted and specific emissions reduction actions possible for our customers.
We’re continuing to execute the roadmap we developed to implement the Taskforce For Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework across our business and support the delivery of our climate strategy.
We’ve offset 100% of our carbon emissions since FY19 and have been certified carbon neutral by the Australian Government’s Climate Active program since FY20, and this is something we’re committed to doing each year.
We’ve recently taken the next step in our journey by setting emissions reduction targets in line with climate science to give us a clear direction to not just offset but reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We’ll be working towards achieving these targets by focusing on the areas of increased renewable energy uptake, being more strategic about business travel, and switching to more sustainable catering wherever possible.
Beyond our own actions, we’re also focused on using our influence to maximise our positive impact by encouraging our stakeholders to be more sustainable. Our partnership with Cogo is a great example of how we can support others to play their part in looking after the environment.
Learn more about Cogo's partnership with Xero and find more information on our Business Carbon Manager on our products page here.
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