Who is a Chief Sustainability Officer?
Written By: Pavithra Desikan

CSO – An Introduction

The idea of a green future is generating a lot of discussion, with businesses preparing to undergo significant reforms to reduce their environmental footprint. To that effect, businesses have realized how a philosophy of sustainable initiatives impacts their bottom line. The Chief Sustainability Officer is responsible for assessing the company’s 3Ps, viz the people, profits and the planet, as well as creating policies and processes that align with all three, and identifying areas for improvement.

Also known as the Sustainability Manager, the Chief Sustainability Officer answers to the CEO, and works with the management, staff, customers, and shareholders to address the organization’s approach towards environmental responsibility, with a goal to reduce the carbon footprint. The CSO also tracks the environmental norms set by the government and ensures the organization complies with them.

What does a CSO do?

A thought leader. With a broad and deep understanding of all functional aspects of the firm, the CSO is a thought leader, keeping up with evolving expectations, and converting them into strategic behaviors, to enable other senior executives to imbibe sustainable options.

A solution provider. Brainstorming to develop solutions that reconcile commercial commitments to support and enhance local and global surroundings, the CSO designs and implements solutions to address environmental challenges like energy consumption, conservation, pollution control, recycling, and infrastructure design.

Identifies challenges. Conducting research to identify environmental and sustainability challenges, creating and implementing sustainable policies to evaluate the success of sustainability initiatives, and suggesting/executing modifications are also up the CSO’s alley.

Considers sustainability suggestions. Incorporating ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) disclosures, creating transparent policies, assessing sustainability areas against potential barriers, like ROI, practicality, and ease of integration, the CSO then gathers them into reports and presents them to the CEO, board of directors, and important stakeholders.

Innovation and efficacy. By infusing cutting-edge ideas, altering the business to strategically incorporate sustainability, the CSO’s focus is on long-term alleviation of societal issues without impacting the profitability. A strategic approach on cost efficient methods to waste management, conservation of natural resources, and emission control, all fall under the CSO’s radar.

Sustainability Analytics for Business

Data analytics is the right map to an organization’s sustainability objectives. Sustainability analytics is very crucial to aid organizations create visibility on the cost, effect, and success of current projects while foreseeing and adapting to future trends in the market.

Sustainability Data Analytics as a managed service ensures efficient traceability of sustainability outcomes to enterprise actions through its underlying data universe and process model. They provide the expertise that gives enterprises a view of their holistic impact. Through incremental deployment of services, desired outcomes are expedited, within available constraints. A leading FMCG client of Systech, based out of Middle East, is leveraging data analytics to embark on a sustainable shift in the food market.

In Conclusion

The United Nations, in their Agenda for Sustainable Development, has given out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in which sustainable living, growth, consumption and production are notable mentions. A long-term foresight on holistic approach to ESG issues is imminent. Data analytics provides fair measures to assess current business practices, and drive relevant changes to boost profitability while fostering sustainability principles. The CSO works at the crux of a continually evolving role, and aided by data analytics, ensures the organization’s commitment towards a sustainable future in a way that is fair to all parties involved.

Chief Sustainability Officer

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