Chief Sustainability Officers Wear Multiple Hats

As companies are more increasingly monitoring the bottom-line results of social and environmental initiatives, the question is how does a company integrate these values to drive results.

Enter the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). This position is still a fairly new leadership role and many CSOs are given little to no guidance on how to complete the tasks at hand.

In her recent study, CSO Back Story:  How Chief Sustainability Officers Reached the C-Suite,”Ellen Weinreb observed that many CSOs have influence, but not the direct power that comes with leading a team through integrations. This raises the question of what the CSO is doing to achieve the results.

Senior Vice President and Partner of VOX Global, Tony Calando, provides some insight on how a CSO can drive increased sustainability within an organization. He writes for Triple Pundit that there are five hats a CSO must hold to be successful in implementing corporate and social responsibility within a company.

  1. Catalyst: By knowing the corporate culture and framing the business case, the CSO can more easily integrate sustainability into a business.
  2. Engineer: Change requires organizational structure. Without this structure, sustainability cannot be integrated across a company. When the CSO serves as an engineer for their organization, sustainability can be implemented at all levels.
  3. Connector: A key aspect of the CSO is to bring the outside world into an organization and to utilize this knowledge to create plan that includes the social and environmental issues that intersect with a company’s needs.
  4. Scout: Corporate social responsibility is always changing. The CSO needs to be someone who can scout out and interpret emerging trends. Not only will this enable the company to take advantage of new opportunities, but it will help avoid any risks.
  5. Collaborator: The CSO will need to collaborate across multiple initiatives in different departments across a company. As more companies are starting to include social responsibility as something important to their organization, the implementation aspect may be slow, but will be successful with patience and communication.

While the role of the CSO may be ever-changing, the person who holds this position is setting up an organization to be able serve as a competitor in tomorrow’s business world.

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