ESG at RSM: Creating a sustainable future


RSM strives to be a leader in sustainable practices that directly affect businesses and employees. So a formalized environmental, social and governance platform was a natural fit for a firm dedicated to service and its local communities for nearly a century.

The firm has continued to evolve its ESG efforts and has integrated this growing strategy into its core values and business goals. Activities range from employee network groups and culture, diversity and inclusion efforts to charitable programs like Birdies Fore Love and firmwide volunteer day, as well as the many community impact programs managed by the RSM US Foundation.

However, despite the good work around ESG at RSM, there’s more opportunity for assessment and focus, according to the firm’s leaders.

“In terms of the S and G (social and governance) areas of our ESG strategy, we’ve made some progress over the years with our work in the RSM US Foundation, diversity and inclusion efforts and other programs,” said Doug Opheim, RSM’s chief financial officer, Foundation chair and co-executive sponsor for the environmental sustainability task force. “But we knew our E (environment) required attention.”

While the degree of effort organizations are making to reduce net carbon footprint to zero is down from previous years, as RSM’s MMBI special report indicates, tackling environmental sustainability is still on the minds of middle market companies. A third (34%) indicated they reduced net carbon emissions to zero or are currently acting to reduce their net carbon emissions to zero. Twenty-seven percent said they were actively taking actions to reduce their carbon footprint, but not to the level of net zero emissions. And 20% indicated they hadn’t taken actions but were evaluating potential carbon footprint efforts.


The first step in addressing environmental sustainability at RSM, Opheim said, was to assess the current state and establish the firm’s carbon footprint by evaluating travel, real estate, finance and related operations. The assessment included a pre-pandemic baseline and current conditions determining future goals.

Next came improvement recommendations, including policies to curtail unnecessary travel and decrease supply and packaging disposal rates. The firm also identified its 100th anniversary in 2026 as a milestone marker for becoming a leader in sustainable practices. RSM’s formal environmental sustainability program is set to launch in 2023.

“Our focus here is about being a sustainable business and ensuring that we're doing our part in society while also advancing our business goals and positioning the organization for the future,” said Sara Weber Laczo, RSM’s chief communications officer and co-executive sponsor for the environmental sustainability task force.

“At the end of the day, a lot of people talk about ‘doing well by doing good,’” she said. “You can do both in a way that's far more sustainable than if you pursued profits at the expense of people or the expense of the planet. We know it's the right thing for our company, our people, our communities and broader society.”

Learn more about ESG at RSM and check out additional information and resources.

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