The CSO – an increasingly important position for companies
Just a few years ago, sustainability was not seen as a priority by most companies and not taken into account in important management decisions. As sustainability is now moving into focus for many companies, there is also a job role, which is becoming increasingly important: The Chief Sustainability Officer – CSO. Less than two decades ago, the position of a CSO was a rare one and only a few companies had defined a dedicated position for the topic area of sustainability. But the subject is gaining a foothold in companies and the world of work: A study of 1,640 companies in 62 countries worldwide by Strategy&, the strategy consulting firm of PwC, shows the change that has taken place: More than one third of all companies in Germany now employ a CSO at management level who drives sustainability issues and incorporates ESG aspects into key business decisions. 49% of the companies examined have a “CSO Light”, located below the top two management levels. Only one in five companies has no CSO function at all.
The study shows that the topic of sustainability has become indispensable for many companies and is increasingly embedded in management. As the number of regulations and legal requirements increases the need for a central coordination point at management level is growing. A strong increase in the number of CSOs was observed in industries that are facing growing pressure from the public, their investors, or regulations to pay more attention to sustainability. These include, for example, consumer goods manufacturers, chemical companies and oil and gas companies.
What does a CSO do?
A CSO handles a broad range of topics in a very dynamic environment. Companies define the role of the CSO very differently. Tasks and topics can vary depending on the industry and on the focus that the company has set itself. One of the most important tasks for a CSO is to monitor external changes and the dynamic environment of new regulations and standards, and then derive important fields of action for the own company. Being a CSO means working strategically and integrating the topic of sustainability into the business activities of the entire company. A CSO shapes the future of the company, brings change, and increases the visibility and commitment to the topic of sustainability.
Over the next few years, the role of the CSO will evolve and become an important part for many companies. Nevertheless, it is essential that sustainability is also integrated into other executive positions and will someday be manifested in all areas of a company. Until then, the CSO will be an indispensable resource for firms that want to shape the future sustainably.
DFGE is strongly working together with sustainability departments and CSOs. With over 20 years of experience, DFGE’s experts provide answers to questions on environmental sustainability, energy efficiency, international standards, reporting and climate protection. If you have further questions or need help with obove mentioned topics, please do not hesitate to contact us at or under +49 8192 99 7 33-20.