In a bid to having strategic sustainability plans and programmes, a C-suite position within an organization is pertinent. This personnel would be saddled with the task of being in charge of all “sustainability” programmes across the various functions of the Organisation. It could be an added responsibility to an existing role (for small firms) or a new position with this responsibility (in large corporations).
Normally these responsibilities may rest with the facility manager or HSE manager, who has provided cost effective resource and environmental control as part of the basic services necessary for the company to function. However, as sustainability initiatives have expanded beyond the facility — so has the importance of the position to what is now a C-level executive role.
Organization normally have lots of chiefs — whether it’s chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO) — to indicate positions of senior responsibility for large areas of the organizations’ day-to-day and strategic operations. However, some organizations that are making an explicit commitment to more sustainable business practices have not yet granted the same seniority to the person in charge of those sustainability initiatives. For many organizations, sustainability is seen as being part of other strategic responsibilities such as compliance or environmental health and safety, corporate affairs, marketing, community relations, which precludes the creation of an entirely separate division.
It is our view that organisations that say and do all the right things about sustainability see the need to support sustainability initiatives with a formal high-level position.
Some alternate titles referring to the person in charge of sustainability are:
Director, VP, EVP, or SVP of Sustainability
Environmental policy manager
Director of environment, energy, & safety
Director of social & environmental responsibility
Social & environmental sustainability manager
Chief of environmental health and safety
Certified sustainability administrator
This position would allow for more firm commitments, disclosures and sustainability reports as to how the company is meeting those commitments. If organisations plan to incorporate sustainable business practices as a core value, then someone should be made responsible and accountable (and rewarded when goals are met/exceeded).
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