They are the ones responsible for creating a corporate climate program and ensuring products and services are environmentally and socially sustainable. Enter the Chief Sustainability Officer, or CSO for short.
While a relatively new introduction to the line of C-Suite executives, it has become one of the most important ones in recent years.
So, what exactly does a Chief Sustainability Officer do? And how can your company benefit from having a dedicated CSO?
Whether you are looking for a CSO or want to become one, we have the answers for you here!
What does a Chief Sustainability Officer do?
The Chief Sustainability Officer is responsible for ensuring a company’s operations and value chain follow environmentally and socially responsible practices. They are tasked with reducing the corporate carbon footprint, minimize waste, ensure ethical sourcing of materials, and managing ESG reporting and implementation.
The CSO is a senior-level executive and usually part of the company’s leadership team. Their primary responsibility is ESG management, first and foremost the E(nvironment) field.
This includes creating science-based targets for decarbonization, lowering process and value chain emissions and communicating all these measures with stakeholders. They must frequently communicate with other departments to ensure that sustainability is integrated into all aspects of the company’s operations, from product design to sales and procurement.
In recent years, one of the key roles of the CSO has become to ensure that the company complies with regulatory obligations. This includes keeping an up-to-date carbon inventory and regularly disclosing the corporate climate impact.
10 Key Responsibilities for Chief Sustainability Officers
A CSO has many responsibilities, but here are the 10 most important ones, in our opinion:
Developing and implementing sustainability strategies
Unsurprisingly, the CSO is responsible for developing and implementing sustainability strategies that align with the company’s goals, values, and vision.
ESG tracking, monitoring & reporting
Establish metrics and measurement systems to track the company’s sustainability performance and report on progress to internal and external stakeholders.
Our integrated Reegy Reporting & Disclosure Module can help automatically generate reports from your activity data!
Ensuring compliance with regulations
Stay up-to-date with environmental regulations and mandates ensure that the company is in compliance with applicable laws and reporting obligations. This includes all aspects of current and upcoming ESG trends, as well as risk management.
Building & managing stakeholder relationships
Engage with stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and the local community, to build relationships and communicate the company’s sustainability goals and initiatives.
Integrating sustainability into business operations
Work with other departments to integrate sustainability into all aspects of the company’s operations, including product development, supply chain management, and marketing.
Implement low carbon solutions to drive innovation and improve a company’s products and services.
Promoting employee engagement
Promote employee engagement by communicating the company’s sustainability goals and initiatives, providing training and education on sustainability topics, and involving employees in sustainability efforts.
At Reegy, we believe everyone in our organization plays an equally important role in our fight against climate change. Therefore, we built several modules and features into our platform to facilitate this. Whether involving your team into deciding which carbon offsets to support or directly measuring their scope 3 emissions, we have the tools for joint climate action.
Managing sustainability-related projects
Oversee sustainability-related projects, such as the installation of renewable energy systems, waste reduction initiatives, and sustainable sourcing programs. This applies to both internal and external projects the company is involved in.
Advocating for sustainability
Advocate for sustainability both within the company and in the broader community, promoting sustainable practices and encouraging others to prioritize sustainability.
This is especially important when setting scope 3 science-based targets and involving the entire value chain in the process.
Educate the team, customers, investors and anyone within the organization on ESG and its implications. We recommend you spend a considerable amount of time on this, as your team will be the biggest deciding factor whether or not you can change the carbon curve
How your company can benefit from a dedicated CSO
Managing a corporate climate program is no easy task. Here are our 6 favorite benefits of having a dedicated Chief Sustainability Officer in your company:
1. Better environmental performance
An experienced and innovative CSO can lead to reduced carbon emissions, energy use, waste, and pollution.
2. Cost Savings
It’s simple: A lower carbon footprint saves your company real money. By reducing energy use and waste, a company can reduce its operating costs. And with rising prices of carbon credits and offsets, lower emissions increase the cost saving potential exponentially.
3. Competitive advantage
Consumers and investors are increasingly interested in companies that are environmentally and socially responsible. In fact, 80% of institutional investors now base their investments also on a company’s carbon performance.
By having a CSO and implementing sustainable practices, a company can gain a competitive advantage over companies that don’t.
4. Improved stakeholder relationships
By building relationships with stakeholders, a company can improve its reputation and strengthen its relationships with those who matter.
5. Compliance with regulations
The CSO is responsible for ensuring that the company is in compliance with environmental regulations. By staying up-to-date on mandatory disclosures, the CSO can help the company avoid fines and penalties.
6. Improved Brand Reputation
Companies that prioritize sustainability and social responsibility are often seen as more trustworthy and authentic by consumers. Of course, this leads to increased sales and large ROI.
7. Increased Innovation
Green technology is a major innovation-driver within a company. A CSO can identify new technologies and processes that can help the company become more sustainable and remain competitive.
8. Sustainability becomes priority
A CSO will help take the responsibility off of the CEO’s shoulders and be more effective at managing ESG measures. This also means recognizing ESG and decarbonization as equally as important as operations, finance, or development.
9 Better brand identity
We know that good employees are hard to get nowadays and even harder to keep. While good salaries will go a long way in attracting top talent to your company, environmental, social and governance aspects are equally as important. A CSO can establish your company as a leader and great place to work.
10 Long-term success
At Reegy, we believe sustainability is equally as important as finances, technology, operations, and all other business areas. Therefore, having a dedicated CSO to manage your sustainability efforts is a logical consequence. If you think it won’t be possible to manage your organization without a CTO or CFP, the same applies to a CSO.
As we have seen, the Chief Sustainability Officer plays a vital role in today’s corporate world. Carbon disclosures and decarbonization targets are here to stay and your company needs someone to manage your efforts just like any other business activity.
As consumers and investors become more concerned about sustainability, the role of the CSO is only going to become more important in the years ahead. Therefore, be smart about choosing an experienced and innovative leader of your corporate sustainability efforts.
And while our Eco Hub can’t help you hire the perfect person for the job, we can provide you with all the right tools to create a world-class climate program.
Reegy is a complete software solution for ESG & Carbon Footprint Management. Our Reegy Eco Hub enables enterprises, financial institutions and governmental organizations to manage their climate action in one central location along the entire value chain. Track, measure, reduce, and offset your carbon emissions, disclose them to regulators, stakeholders, and customers and lead your company to Net Zero on autopilot!