Chief Sustainability Officers Wield ‘Extraordinary Power’

by | Jul 5, 2007

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Chief sustainability officers are becoming more popular with companies that want to profit from going green and want to guard the value of their brand, The New York Times reports.

“Environmental vice presidents usually spend company money, but this new breed is helping companies make money,” said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The titles vary, mixing and matching “chief” and “vice president,” “sustainability” and “environmental,” making it impossible to track how many people fill the role. But whatever they are called, the new environmental chiefs – many of them named in the last two years – wield extraordinary power, according to The Times. They are exploring partnerships with vendors and customers to create green products – and they have the power to close the deal. They are also getting a vote – often, the deciding vote – on product research and advertising campaigns.

AMR Research’s John Davies has noticed that the chief green officer reports, just like other top executives, directly to the CEO. Organizationally, he or she oversees both internal and external opportunities, according to the article. This translates to having direct and indirect reports that oversee environmental health and safety, energy, procurement, and regulatory affairs. In addition to these organizations, the chief green officer in many cases is also responsible for environmental stewardship, corporate communications, strategic partnerships, and product innovation.

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