Game that encourages students to think sustainably wins award nomination

Encouraging accounting students to think about sustainability when making business decisions has led to a national nomination for an associate professor at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

Darren Sparkes co-created a business simulation called Accounting Bissim with colleagues Matt Davies from Aston University and Lisa Weaver from the University of Warwick designed to bring Accounting and Finance to life for students.

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The team have now been shortlisted for a Finance for the Future Award, run by ICAEW, The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project and Deloitte.

They are finalists in the Driving change through education, training and academia award, which recognises the contribution of individuals, organisations or joint-entrants in driving action to integrate sustainability through education, training and academia.

Darren said: “The Accounting Bissim team are delighted to have been shortlisted for this prestigious award. Whilst the simulation was originally developed in order to improve engagement in accounting and finance learners, being shortlisted for the Finance for the Future Awards recognises Accounting Bissim’s ability to promote a holistic and sustainable approach to accounting, finance and business management decisions.”

Students act as the board of directors to run a robot manufacturing business in a competitive market place, making decisions and analysing the results. They can make decisions on a range of sustainability issues such as choosing ethical suppliers, cutting waste, reducing CO2 emissions and power usage, eliminating water pollution and the level of pay and training of their staff – all of which may cost money in the short term, but can lead to better long-term returns if the business is managed well. The sustainability decisions can be mapped to ten of the seventeen United Nations sustainability development goals.

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The winning team is the one that is judged to have left the business in the best position for the future, by creating a long-term sustainable business rather than concentrating on short-term profits. The aim is to encourage students to think about sustainability alongside other business decisions so that it becomes ‘business as usual’.

Richard Spencer, Head of Sustainability at ICAEW said: “The Finance for the Future Awards process is a wonderful way to connect with, and hear the stories of people who are dealing with how they and/or their organisations benefit the planet and society as part of the way they do business. Each year we have seen a greater diversity and geographic spread of entrants demonstrating leading integrated thinking and action. This year has been no exception with an impressive field of contenders.”

Helen Slinger, Executive Director, A4S, said: "Embedding social and environmental considerations into key financial decisions can improve performance. The finalists of these Awards demonstrate why all finance leaders should be considering broader factors; for the future of the planet, society and their organisations."

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Veronica Poole, global IFRS leader and UK head of corporate reporting at Deloitte, said: “This year’s shortlist demonstrates the strength that some organisations are showing in moving towards long-term sustainability. I am particularly encouraged by the number of finalists where organisations are taking action on the climate crisis.

“Showcasing some leading examples of those adopting integrated thinking is particularly timely in the UK – given the renewed focus on directors’ duty to promote the long-term success of their business – and should also be of interest worldwide. Integrated thinking takes into account the interests of employees, customers, suppliers and the environment, and is a growing focus for investors and policy makers.”

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Posted on Tuesday 10th September 2019

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