Who Should be the Chief Sustainability Officer ?
Posted by David Burns | No comments | agree_icon Agree (5) | disagree_icon Disgree (0)
Who Should be the Chief Sustainability Officer ?

Read the Verdantix research report on what type of person is best suited to be a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). Are you a potential CSO candidate?

The Chief Sustainability Officer or sustainability leader is the first step to embrace sustainable change. However, a significant proportion of Australian companies have not yet prepared for the looming carbon economy that has sustainabiltiy identified as the key foundation. In particular, many Australian companies face a climate change and sustainability management deficit. Risks and opportunities can be managed effectively by employing a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) or sustainability leader.

Who Is the ideal candidate for the Chief Sustainability Officer role?

According to research conducted by Verdantix and Norman Broadbent, respondents favoured a potential Chief Sustainability Officer to possess skills likened to a highly capable general manager backed up by domain expertise in CSR, energy and manufacturing. Key capabilities and example behaviours favoured were listed as:

* Thinking skills to manage complexity.

* Strategy to establish a vision - big picture with broad networks.

* Networking and influencing to shape beliefs.

* Commercial results focus.

* Change management to achieve goals.

An additional characteristic that I consider critical for any Chief Sustainability Officer is credibility - does an individual demonstrate sustainable values at home and by lifestyle choices?


What Experience is Considered Extremely Important/ Important for a CSO Candidate?

1. Business Transformation: 48% / 42% (moderately - unimportant - totally unimportant 10%).

2. General Management: 27% / 52% (moderately - unimportant - totally unimportant 21%).

3. Product/ Service Innovation: 18% / 55% (moderately - unimportant - totally unimportant 27%).

4. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): 21% / 45% (moderately - unimportant - totally unimportant 34%).

5. Energy: 21% / 36% (moderately - unimportant - totally unimportant 43%).

6. Manufacturing & Operations: 9% / 39% (moderately - unimportant - totally unimportant 52%).

7. Environment Health & Safety: 6% / 33% (moderately - unimportant - totally unimportant 61%).

8. IT: 2% / 18% (moderately - unimportant - totally unimportant 80%).

n=33 (Allianz Insurance, British Airways, BT, CA, Carbon Systems, CH2MHill, Chrysler, Cisco, Deloitte, DOW, ECX, Fiat, Ford, GE, GM, Hara, IBM, IHS, Kroger, McKinsey, Microsoft, Norman Broadbent, Orange, SAP, Shell, Siemens, Tesco, Toyota, Unilever, UTC).

For the full report on Who Should be the Chief Sustainability Officer, read the Verdantix Jan 2010 research paper.


David Burns is a Sustainability Advisor and Analyst,


If you have a friend that you would like to share this with, then

Share Facebook   Twitter   Google   Technorati   Stumble Upon   Digg   Linked In  

Post Comment

Name (required)
Email (required, but not published)
  Please copy the following characters into the textbox
Captcha (required)