Verdantix says the chief sustainability officer is critical for strategic innovation
Firms must appoint a Chief Sustainability Officer to succeed with strategic innovation in a resource-constrained economy, according to a new report from independent research firm Verdantix. The Chief Sustainability Officer requires proven general management skills, business transformation experience and the commercial insight to support sustainability-driven innovations. 'Many CEOs hold back their firm's ability to innovate in a resource-constrained world by appointing the wrong person to lead their sustainability strategy,' commented David Metcalfe, who led the research. 'The sustainability and climate change market will grow at an annual rate of 14% between 2009 and 2013. To capitalise on this new market opportunity firms need a highly networked, commercially-aware change leader who knocks heads together and sets out an ambitious vision. Most CSR, Energy and Facilities Directors do not have the right skill set to succeed.' The Verdantix Report, Who Should Be The Chief Sustainability Officer?, defines the CSO role, explains why it is needed and outlines the unique skill set required. Based on interviews with 33 industry experts, from low carbon technology providers to environmental consultancies and executive search firms the analysis establishes that successful CSOs should:
- Incorporate sustainable business trends into a plan for strategic innovation that positions the firm to grow in the context of commercial realities such as oil prices above $150 per barrel, real caps on carbon emissions and water scarcity.
- Identify opportunities to generate financially material revenues from climate change and sustainability initiatives such as smart grid, electric vehicles, recycled materials, energy efficiency and low carbon operations.
- Create and collaboratively implement firm-wide sustainability performance metrics and data collection to provide the Executive Team with accurate data on the firm's sustainability performance.
- Develop international strategies for carbon reduction and energy efficiency that reflect peer group achievements and national regulations.
'Firms as diverse as CA, Dow Chemical, Nixon Peabody and Orange have appointed senior individuals with the responsibilities and skills sets identified in our study,' added Verdantix Director, David Metcalfe. 'Non-executive directors at firms without an empowered CSO should ask the executive team, 'What are we missing?', before sustainability trends expose the firm to unexpected consequences.' The webinar 'Who Should Be The Chief Sustainability Officer?' scheduled for April 15, 2010 is available for registration at: www.verdantix.com