2014 winners press release

Sustainability through financial innovation celebrated at 2014 awards

Top finance teams that have led the way in driving sustainability in their organisations were recognised last night at the Finance for the Future Awards. Now in their third year, the awards, hosted by ICAEW and HRH The Prince of Wales’ Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S), recognise leadership in financial innovation which places sustainability at the heart of a business’s operations.

The awards were set up to pay tribute to finance teams that drive sustainability by embedding it in their core business. They also aim to highlight and celebrate the role of the finance function, in driving innovative and sustainable business decisions to create long term sustainable value.

All the organisations that entered had to pass a due diligence check, and were visited on-site by a team of assessors. Finalists were then invited to make formal presentations to the panel of expert judges – providing the opportunity for a deeper examination into the organisation’s business model, how it was driving innovation, and what it was doing to create long-term sustainable value.

The winners with the judge’s citations are:

Large Business Winner – Unilever

"Unilever's entry was a great example of how to leverage the skill-set of the finance team to the best advantage, helping to embed sustainability throughout the whole organisation globally. They provided integrated analysis at a product level across commercial and sustainability measures. Through bringing a systematic and rigorous approach to the way targets are incorporated into decisions, the finance team have played a vital role in progressing towards Unilever's aim of doubling the size of their business whilst halving the environmental footprint and increasing positive social impact."

SME Award Winner – Vegware

“The judges were particularly impressed with the work that the company has been doing regarding education, Eco-audits and the Food Waste Network. Quite clearly, sustainability is an integral part of Vegware and without taking it seriously and promoting it, there wouldn’t be a business. In other words, from a sustainability perspective, Vegware stood out as the clear winner of their category.”

Public Sector Award Winner – The Crown Estate

“As one of the UK’s largest, most diverse and most successful property businesses, sustainability is at the core of Crown Estate’s decision making. The Finance Team has taken the initiative to develop external integrated reporting, demonstrating clear leadership for the whole property sector. Involving all functions within its business, the finance team has also developed a new, innovative way of measuring progress, driving fundamental changes & buy in across the whole organisation.

Social Enterprise Award Winner – Belu Water

“This was an extremely challenging category to judge as the finalists were very different and all brought inspiring stories. Belu won because it is ambitiously using what it does as a business - selling bottled water - to solve a global problem of access to clean water. In so doing it points to the possibility of business with purpose being normative”

Innovative New Idea Award Winner – Threadneedle Investments

“We were impressed to see such a diversity of new ideas, which suggests an exciting future for finance professionals. Threadneedle Investments stood out for us because it brings the mainstream, in the shape of the bond market, to the issues of sustainability.”

Highly commended awards were also presented to: Large Business – Interserve & Sainsbury’s Public Sector – The Royal Mint

Richard Spencer, ICAEW’s Head of Sustainability, said: “The standard this year was extremely high, and we are delighted to congratulate our winners. ICAEW believes the accountancy and finance profession has a critical role to play in driving sustainability; in the long term, sustainability has to make business sense, then it can be embedded at every level of an organisation’s operations and planning. Other companies can learn lot from what these companies are doing, which is one reason why we helped found these awards, so we can both recognise and showcase the businesses that are doing this brilliantly.”

Jessica Fries, Executive Chairman, A4S, said: "The winners of these awards have shown that commercial and sustainability outcomes go hand-in hand, and that finance teams have a vital role to play in ‘hard-wiring’ this thinking into every decision an organisation takes. They have shown the importance of the role that finance plays in helping businesses achieve strong financial, environmental and social performance."

Media enquiries:

ICAEW: Jamie Douglass, ICAEW press office, 020 7920 8718 /07876 035 947  

The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S): Deborah McSkimming, 020 7024 5701

Notes to editors: 

The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) was established in 2004 by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. A4S works to catalyse action by the finance, accounting and investor community to support a fundamental shift towards resilient business models and a sustainable economy.

The project works to:

  • Demonstrate the business case, increase engagement and build capacity to achieve a fundamental shift in decision making that results in sustainable business models.
  • Develop the systems, tools and guidance to enable the accounting and finance community organisations to integrate measures of environmental health, social wellbeing and economic performance into financial decision making, accounting and reporting.
  • Facilitate the creation of an enabling environment for change through a shift to sustainable capital markets, regulatory and reporting environments.

In 2013 it established the A4S CFO Leadership Network CFO Leadership Network. The network is the first grouping of its kind to focus on the role CFOs play in integrating environmental and social issues into financial decision making. It will focus on developing and sharing successful strategies so these become the 'norm' across all businesses.