• SKILL LEVEL:
  • Leader

Chief sustainability officer

Job profile:

Sustainability

Career zone:

The transformation driver


What is a chief sustainability officer and what do they do?

 

Chief Sustainability officers have primary responsibility for addressing a company’s sustainability efforts. They will contribute to the development of a company’s sustainability strategy, helping to balance sustainability requirements with commercial realities and will take the lead in developing and executing sustainability initiatives.

They help to foster a culture where sustainability is integrated throughout the company, ensure that sustainability efforts contribute positively to business performance and may be asked to formally report on sustainability performance to stakeholders.

The demands for financial and non-financial information on sustainability are increasing, as are the complexities of the regulatory and compliance requirements, and these professionals will have to respond appropriately.


Key responsibilities
 

Responsibilities will vary, but examples include: 

 

  • developing a sustainability vision for the company encompassing people, profit and planet
  • developing the business case to address sustainability issues
  • securing and leveraging senior level commitment and support for integrating sustainable development into core processes and decision-making
  • ensuring appropriate internal controls and measurement systems are in place to support sustainability efforts
  • measuring & monitoring progress against sustainability strategies, objectives and performance targets
  • fostering a culture of sustainability through ongoing organisational communications and education
  • acting as the 'go to' expert for sustainability
  • monitoring emerging trends, programs and issues and communicating and educating others on sustainability topics
  • delivering all legal compliance and due diligence requirements.

Why are they important?

 

As the expectations on corporate responsibility increase, governments and the private sector have recognised the need for a structured approach to sustainability.

Professionals in this field are key to developing and executing effective sustainability strategies, and have become an essential link between the organisation, its stakeholders, regulatory bodies and an increasingly socially conscious workforce. They promote environmental protection, social responsibility and profitability and help re-enforce a positive image about the company both internally and to the wider public.


Person specification

 

As well as being clear on the impact of sustainability in an organisation, the chief sustainability officer will need to be both analytical and creative. They should have excellent project management, organisational and planning skills, allowing them to manage multiple tasks and assess priorities effectively. As such, it is essential that their insight skills in particular are of the highest standard. However, this is a constantly evolving area and they need to ensure they continually keep abreast of change and motivate individuals to move forwards too, thus showing great drive. At this level, strong collaboration skills are also required. 

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