AccountingWEB 2009 Scholarship award-winning essay
By Hannah Weisner, University of Massachusetts
Going green is the movement of this time period. Businesses are a large component of the fight to create a clean environment. Over this past winter I did an internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the largest accounting firms in the world. I was able to see their part in the going green movement. Their effort toward paperless audits was strong. Most clients delivered information electronically and company documentation was also done electronically. Due to this, thousands of pounds of paper were saved and that is just from one office in one accounting firm. According to the CPA Trends Web site, in the audit practice:
- 73% request documents prepared by clients in an electronic format such as PDF, spreadsheet, or scanned image, up from 68% in 2007.
- 86% store all audit work papers in a paperless audit application; up from 71%.
- 73% primarily link audit applications to tax applications to digitally transfer trial balance information, up from 64%.
At a time in the United States where corporate responsibility is at the forefront of news and taxpayers are bailing out companies, going green is a cost effective and socially responsible move. One of the major cost effective environmentally friendly ideas I have involves carpooling. During my internship I realized how much driving is involved in the auditing process. I see an opportunity to reduce the amount of driving, especially because in many cases teams arc coming from the same area. My idea would be to have a database where individuals could write their travel plans and compare if there were other individuals in the office with the same plans. This would be beneficial to the environment by reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases and be cost effect to companies who have to pay their employees mileage. Also firms should make it a priority for teams to discuss, before engagements, whether carpooling is possible for team members.
Besides actions firms themselves can implement to reduce their negative output, accounting firms can influence the hundreds of clients they service every year. At the University of Colorado a course called environmental accounting is taught, the course is designed to teach students how to highlight environmental costs, allowing companies to see areas in which they can reduce costs. According to the University of Colorado's Web site, an example of this is when a manufacturing company does not include the cost of disposal of solvents, training employees to handle the chemicals, and other environmental costs. Using environmental accounting would allow companies to include these costs and therefore allows companies to create cost effective environmentally friendly practices. In a time where companies are struggling to stay afloat and cutting cost is high priority, accounting firms can help their clients by specifically looking for cost effective environmentally friendly practices.
Overall the going green movement needs to be a world wide movement because, as Al Gore said, "If we did not take action to solve this crisis, it could indeed threaten the future of human civilization. That sounds shrill. It sounds hard to accept. I believe it's deadly accurate. But again, we can solve it."
- "Going, Going... Gone Paperless!" 11 Jan. 2009. 6 Mar. 2009.
- "CU-Boulder Business Professor Teaches Environmental Approach To Accounting." 3 May 2001.6 Mar. 2009.
- "The World According to Al Gore" By Albert Gore, Joseph Kaufmann.
About the author
Hannah Weisner is going into her senior year as an Accounting/Kinesiology major with an Information Technology minor at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She took her first accounting class her sophomore year of high school and has been pursuing it ever since. Earlier this year, she completed a winter internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers as an audit intern. This summer she will also be completing another internship as an internal audit internal Rogers Corporation. Her post-graduation plans with accounting involve continuing on as a full-time employee at PricewaterhouseCoopers.