Sustainability Leaders and the C-Suite - Sink or Swim?
Updated: Feb 19
Between BlackRock CEO, Larry Fink’s, climate oriented investment decree and the World Economic Forum’s sustainability agenda, the new year has commenced with all eyes on business leaders and corporations to pull their climate weight. With a decade of escalating climate commitments and carbon targets, it’s time for sustainability leaders to deliver even bigger gains. There’s a better seat at the table, and success is increasingly important to enterprise and economic value. Sustainability leaders that to succeed in this landscape will:
Be effective change agents in the c-suite.
Good initiatives that don’t get translated into top priorities are not much use. It’s incumbent upon sustainability leaders to be prepared with quantitative communication. Comprehensive carbon inventories that are accurate, transparent and up-to-date, a firm grasp on climate related risks (particularly as they pertain to a price - or implicit price - on carbon), and capital efficient plans to meet carbon targets are foundational to being a strong advocate internally. Lack of reliable information and analysis is like a CFO not knowing how much debt is on the books, or revenue was collected last quarter.
Bring fresh approaches and innovative strategies.
Just as unsustainable business practices are insufficient for the future, so are old gameplans for sustainability leaders. The best approaches integrate sustainability initiatives throughout a business, they don’t sit in a sustainability silo. They also extend beyond the walls of the organization and think broadly about footprint and risk exposure. Internal carbon pricing, and incorporating scope 3 emissions via supply chain engagement will be adopted by an increasing number of organizations.
Quantitative analysis and innovative strategies sound great on paper, but with limited capacity and small teams sustainability leaders will need to learn how to do more with less. Scalable processes that manage more information and decision making capacity will be the only way to bridge the gap.
The success of sustainability teams will become integral to organizational value creation. Missing targets will have wider consequences that impact the bottom line. GreenBiz estimates a 23% risk to global earnings as a result of climate change, and investors and executive leaders are taking these facts seriously.