Features | From Pivot Magazine

The real meaning of value 

How CPAs are building better communities 

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Business man making presentation to office colleagues The March issue of Pivot offers a series of inspirational stories about how Canadian CPAs are working to make their communities better (Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images)

On a business trip to Amsterdam last year, a colleague and I found ourselves sharing a meal with Mervyn King, a hugely influential figure in the world of integrated reporting. South African by birth and a former Supreme Court justice in that country, King has steeped himself in the field of corporate governance and is a true pioneer in the global movement toward more comprehensive corporate reporting. He has served as chair of the Global Reporting Initiative and, more recently, as founder of the International Integrated Reporting Council, of which I am a member.

King’s view, once iconoclastic but now widely accepted, is that corporate reporting can’t just be about numbers. Because value creation involves human, social, intellectual and natural capital alongside more traditional financial assets, companies must look beyond their business models when they report out their results. Sustainability and outcomes are crucial, while boards, King has argued, need to see quantifiable results when it comes to these other elements of performance.

Professional accountants, as he reminded us that evening, play a critical role in helping organizations show how value creation is about much more than the bottom line. Though not a member of our profession, King’s message is powerful and poignant: that accountants, through their thought leadership with emerging sustainability reporting standards, are making the world a better place. In Peter Shawn Taylor’s story, King expands on his thinking.

Picking up on these themes, the March issue of Pivot offers a series of inspirational stories about how Canadian CPAs are working to make their communities better. 

Sarah Cook, a member of Manitoba’s Misipawistik Cree First Nation, gives a moving account of how she has used her CPA training to improve education in the community where she grew up. An assistant director of finance at the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, Cook is helping to foster massive frontline change; her career is a passion and a calling. 

CEO and President of CPA Canada, Joy ThomasJoy Thomas (Matt Barnes)

We also have a feature about Mark Lemieux, a soft-spoken but evidently imperturbable CPA who stepped up to untangle the epic mess that is the federal government’s Phoenix pay system. Lemieux, an assistant deputy minister in Public Services and Procurement Canada, is putting his abundant communication and collaboration skills to good use in the effort to fix the system. 

His work directly touches hundreds of thousands of public servants who have seen their financial lives turned inside out by the broken system. Lemieux’s task is Herculean, and one can’t read his story without reflecting on just how impressive it is that he wanted to make a difference and take this work on.

At the profession-wide level, CPA Canada’s Foresight consultation has now moved into its next phase, which is to take the enormous amount of feedback we received in online discussions and in-person roundtables and put it into action. Foresight is partly about making sure our stakeholders understand the critical role CPAs play in so many industries and sectors. But this process is also about figuring out how to make the profession that much more relevant and technologically current in the age of big data and artificial intelligence.

In other news, we are now formally united as Chartered Professional Accountants right across Canada, thanks to the passage of the final unification legislation in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Finally, I’d like to offer my congratulations to a pair of giants in this profession, Kevin Dancey and Shelley Brown, for their investitures into the Order of Canada. Dancey (FCPA, FCA) served as president and CEO of CPA Canada from 2013 to 2016 and now heads the International Federation of Accountants. Brown (FCPA, FCA) was co-chair of CPA Canada’s first board of directors. She was a partner at Deloitte and served on the board of directors of Deloitte Canada for 12 years. She has also been an outspoken advocate of workplace diversity and inclusion. I have worked with both Kevin and Shelley in various capacities and am so thrilled they were recognized with the country’s highest civilian honour.