21.06.2022 Finance International Luxembourg

Chief Sustainability Officers, a powerful new addition to the C-suite

As consumers increasingly pay attention to companies’ Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) responsibilities, C-level roles in sustainability are key to stand out from the competition and pave the way to a green future. 

Towards a more inclusive and sustainable economy

Over the past few years, we have seen a major shift in consumers’ behavior (especially from the millennial generation) – they increasingly pay attention to companies’ environmental policies and tend to favor local crafts over multinationals, especially since Covid-19 and governments’ willingness to “build back better”.

Companies have then a vested interest in taking their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) responsibilities seriously – a new perspective good for business as well as for the planet. But how to become more sustainable while delivering real financial value? Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs) may well have the answer.

Getting CSOs in the loop

While brands have long considered sustainability policies as a cost – which can be cut back – rather than a means to add value, there seems to be a paradigm shift. This is where CSOs come into play.

Along with chief executives, CSOs will help companies to stand out from the competition and drive sustainable growth by facilitating their green transition, but how? They will first see how society is responding to climate change and if companies are jumping on the bandwagon, to provide chief executives with strategic inputs, integrate sustainability into companies’ day-to-day operations and eventually drive a mindset shift internally.

According to a report recently published by the European Banking Federation and Deloitte, 80% of the 28 European banks surveyed have a sustainability officer role – and Luxembourg seems to be on track as well: last year, Deloitte named Francesca Messini as its Sustainability Leader, the ABBL recently reinforced its Sustainability and Conduct team by onboarding Thomas Collins and IQ-EQ hired Sustainability Manager Sanaa Hira last May – to name just a few.

The European Banking Federation (EBF) also launched a “CSO Roundtable” in February – a platform of around 30 sustainability leaders in banking “who meet regularly, share best practices and explore collective action on sustainability and climate issues”. This is undoubtedly the perfect opportunity for those lagging to see the future through a new lens while still satisfying the shareholders’ financial needs.