F i nance Month l y CFO Awards 2021 - 79 - - SPECIAL FEATURE - on the required timeline and to unlock the full spectrum of direct and indirect benefits. Stage 1 Opportunistic: The leadership team of companies in the opportunistic stage often understands the high-level benefits of sustainabilityprograms. Nevertheless, these companies have not set specific targets; rather, sustainability projects are pursued on an ad hoc basis and are typically approved if they meet basic financial thresholds, such as a quick payback. This narrowly focused approach usually results in limited operational cost reductions and achieves only incremental emissions reductions. Stage 2 Thematic: In the thematic stage, a company’s CFO and finance team lead the analysis of company-wide programmes that support the organisation’s sustainability ambition. The company sets time-bound targets across its operations that follow generally accepted frameworks and methodology and has identified a portfolio of similar projects—such as energy efficiency or on-site solar generation—to meet these goals. Typical target outcomes at this stage include reduced long- term costs of energy, increased price certainty, and more efficient use of capital. At this stage, the CFO also begins to seriously investigate sustainable finance options which allow the company to expand its bank and investor network and lays the foundation for financing a broader set of decarbonisation measures in the future. Stage 3 Holistic: A company with a holistic approach develops a comprehensive understanding of the importance of sustainability to the success of its organisation and positions sustainability at the core of its business. Its leadership relies on cross-functional collaboration to set and achieve ambitious corporate goals, such as science- based decarbonisation targets. The finance team takes a lead role in shaping the company’s roadmap of sustainability initiatives that deliver financial returns as well as incremental values such as accelerated decarbonisation, enhanced brand value, decreased risk, and, ultimately, improved market position. By identifying a company’s stage of integrating sustainability into its finance function, finance departments and CFOs can track their progress to ensure that they’re keeping pace with the company’s overall sustainability objectives and taking actions that contribute to the overall transformational success of the organisation. With corporations growing ever more ambitious in addressing climate change, CFOs and their finance teams play a central role in ensuring that their companies can meet their sustainability transformation goals. Only by integrating a sustainabilitymindset can the finance function properly prepare for risks that unlock the true value at stake, effectively structure investments, and adopt changes that drive meaningful progress toward sustainability goals.