INTRODUCTION TO THE WITS ONLINE CVO PROGRAMME:
At a time when we are faced with the challenges of social inequality, resource constraints, climate change and, most recently, the effects of COVID-19, what the world needs is an urgent shift from short-term finance centric business models to stakeholder inclusivity, environmental responsibility and long-term sustainability. It is with this in mind that Professor Mervyn King, widely regarded as one of the fathers of corporate governance, is calling for the role of the Chief Financial Officer to become the Chief Value Officer (CVO) instead.
According to Professor King: “The CVO role will ensure that all relevant aspects of value creation and destruction are accounted for and communicated to boards, management, and external stakeholders”.
However, this is easier said than done.
Accountants and financiers all well versed in the debits and credits of profit making. But understanding, internalising and applying the principles of integrated thinking and sustainable development are more challenging.
It is with this context that Wits University, in partnership with SAICA, decided to create a series of short courses dealing with the role and function of the CVO aimed specifically at accountants.
CVO COURSE #3: SUSTAINABILITY ASSURANCE
As business continues to face social, economic and governance challenges, the level of interest in sustainable value creation is increasing. Stakeholders are demanding more accountability from business and reassurances that information provided in sustainability and integrated reports is credible.
From a company’s perspective, the pressure to have sustainability-related information assured can be immense. Organisations allow market trends to guide their decisions on what and how to have their reports assured rather than being informed by the need to use assurance as part of the broader value creation process. The result is that they are ill-prepared for assurance and cannot maximise the benefits of having their reporting, systems and processes subject to third party verification.
With this in mind, Wits University in partnership with SAICA is pleased to launch the third short course in the CVO programme entitled “Sustainability Assurance”. While the course is focussed on sustainability assurance, which is an emerging area of reporting and governance, the principles of assurance covered in this course will apply equally to all types of assurance aimed at integrated reporting, environmental, social and governance reporting, extended external reporting and combined assurance considerations. The course will provide an understanding of how emerging forms of assurance (and related concepts) are being applied in practice. This understanding will further contribute to the skillset of Chief Value Officer (CVO) required for bolstering economic, environmental, and social performance and the related accountability for organisations.