Why Chief Sustainability Officers could be a central profession for the financial sector

Elizabeth Smith

Many companies still don’t understand the real meaning and the role of the Chief Sustainability Officers (CSO). In the last years this figure is getting more and more important and become one of the pillars of thousands of companies worldwide.

Chief Sustainability Officers analyze and predict a company’s practices. The aim is to ensure that the organization’s environmental and social impact is managed, all the while ensuring maximum profitability in this management.

Deloitte and the Euopean Banking Federation presented, last June, the report: “The Future of the Chief Sustainability Officer. Sense-maker in Chief”. It is focused on the emerging works of the future, and it shows a view of more than 80 qualified professionals from more than 70 companies with the aim of understanding the financial sector’s perception of CSO. The research studies in deep the reasons which lead the many companies to hire a CSO, and presented a list about the corporate governance models which can work better with this new role.

The report is a guide to understand how financial services companies are looking at the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) challenge. The study also explains why some companies have decided to hire a CSO and why some other did not, which are the CSO’s main roles, the job’s skills required, the way CSO contrinbute to governance and how their role is likely to evolve.

Referring to the choice between having or not a CSO within the company, CEO’s and HR Managers should consider some points:

  • If the external environmental is changing faster than inside the organization, so it needs help it to adapt
  • If external stakeholders scrutinity is intensifying, as are the expectations placed on the organization
  • If the company recognizes that ESG risks are important enough to be strategic.

There are new business models that are emerging on the road to decarbonization. And if we are not able to adapt and support the technologies that are part of them, we will all fail – says Javer Rodriguéz Soler, BBVA’s Global Head of Sustainability since 2021.

The most important skills a CSO should have are strategic. Together with influencing skills, they are even more important than technical skills, which are indispensable, too. Such as, for example, quantifyng climate change data and regulatoru competencies.

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