RSM marks its ESG journey

Oct 13, 2021
MMBI Economics ESG

This article was originally published in our 2021 Environmental, Social and Governance special report. For more ESG news and insights,read the full report.

Fostering strong social connections has been integral to the culture at RSM, whose deep ties to the communities it serves date back to its founding as a small Midwestern firm nearly a century ago.

Today, against the backdrop of heightened awareness around racial and gender equity, income inequality, the environment and other growing social issues, the firm is taking steps to drive change, including putting a growing emphasis on environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives and developing the means to track progress within the firm. The firm published its first diversity report this year.

“RSM has a long history of stewardship, which we define as leaving things better than we found them,” says Doug Opheim, RSM chief financial officer and chairman of the RSM US Foundation, which has raised funds for causes focused on education, hunger, housing and health since its establishment in 2014. “This applies to our firm, our community and the world in which we live.”

To that end, RSM earlier this year launched the  Middle Market Collaborative for Understanding, a group that brings together senior middle market executives from RSM’s client roster to discuss diversity, equity and inclusion. It also sponsors six CEO Action for Racial Equity Fellows, who are working to advance racial equity through policy and business leadership.

“RSM has an established program to foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion within our firm,” says Tracey Walker, RSM national leader of culture, diversity and inclusion. “We were pleased to add these external programs to further engage our client base and support broader action to advance equity in our nation.”

RSM has recently turned its attention to environmental strategies and is currently completing work that entails baseline measurements of its environmental impact, defining goals and deploying programs across its offices to ensure consistency and continuous improvement.

As the research in this MMBI special report shows, midsize organizations are now wellversed in ESG, and ready to embrace social and environmental business initiatives increasingly demanded by investors, customers, employees, vendors and other important stakeholders. These moves have not only proven to be good for society, but in the end, they make for better business.

“The significant challenges we have seen in our society during the last 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, extreme weather events and more have left a lasting impact,” says RSM Principal and Communications Leader Sara Webber Laczo. “They have made business leaders open their eyes to the importance of ESG—asking not only what they can do to make their business more successful but also more sustainable in the future. At RSM, we’re committed to doing our part for the mutual benefit of our firm, clients, people and the communities and world in which we operate.”

The Real Economy blog

The Real Economy Blog was developed to provide timely economic insights about the middle market economy. It is offered as a complement to RSM’s macroeconomic thought leadership, including the quarterly The Real Economy Canada.

The voice of the middle market

Middle market organizations, which make up the “real economy,” are too big to be small and too small to be big. They have distinct challenges and opportunities around resources, labour, technology, innovation, regulation and more.