News from the Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy

Sustainability Workshop Explores the New Trend in Reporting

Dr. Jeffrey Hales led a workshop for ASAC faculty on company sustainability.

As a part of the new Bulldog Lecture Series established by College of Business Dean Scott Grawe, the Adkerson School of Accountancy invited University of Texas professor Jeffrey Hales to direct a faculty workshop at the School.

Hales holds the Bake Chair in Global Sustainability Leadership and is the Charles T. Zlatkovich Centennial Professor of Accounting at Texas’ McCombs School of Business.

On March 22, Hales shared what he had gleaned from his research in company sustainability with the faculty. His interest in this area stems from his belief that companies don’t just need current financial reports from their accountants, but they also need ways to predict future trends in their industry sectors and the availability of resources to ensure their long term well-being.

“I started thinking about the financial statements created to show investors – what’s not being captured and what’s important to companies going forward,” shares Hales in talking about companies’ futures. “It’s important to have the ability to continue succession, attract the right people and use natural resources they will be able to rely on.”

Hales’ workshop explored different approaches to identifying sustainable information and the different types of assurance provided on that. Faculty members enjoyed hearing how to assess the ways in which investors expect to be informed, along with how to judge what works well and what doesn’t. Ultimately, this approach will inform the future of policymaking at companies.

“Dr. Hales’ research examines an emerging assurance market – the auditing of sustainability disclosures, which may add a game-changing level of services accounting firms will need to provide in the future,” shares Brad Lang, MSU Assistant Professor of Accountancy. “His expertise and knowledge ignited a sense of enthusiasm and motivation among attendees. We are grateful for the opportunity to engage with Dr. Hales and learn from his experience, and we look forward to integrating his insights into our own research endeavors.”

As this new outlook is enfolded into the curriculum, the student benefit is that it presents a model to better understanding the full breadth of a business and not thinking solely in an accounting “silo.” Deeper knowledge about a company will be encouraged, as the individual seeks to learn the key elements of a company’s overall activities.