Recent report by Deloitte, How to Leverage Sustainability Initiatives for Finance Transformation, makes the point “sustainability is no longer just an effort to portray good corporate citizenship along side ‘normal’ business operations.” If in the short run the best way to have a C-level voice for sustainability is through the CFO, and we all agree that any initiative worth its salt needs C-level representation, then it is time for companies with a strong sustainability bent, and no C-level sustainability officer, to move their sustainability reporting out of the Corporate Social Responsibility Report and onto the main playing field. GHG emissions, materials, waster, water, land use and biodiversity are not externalities in terms of risk and costs. It’s the CFO who runs accounting and these sustainability measurements need to be on the books. John Fullerton of the Capital Institute talks about externalities in the content of an economic transformation and Larry O’Connor of LaTrobe University in Australia comes at the same issue from an accounting reform perspective.
Social + Environmental
There is a strong argument for a C-level Sustainability officer who integrates social and environmental sustainability addressing the need for improving health and welfare by engaging customers, partners, and employees in adopting sustainability practices and principles at home, work and in their communities along with an in tandem with environmental sustainability. Fundamentally, raising consciousness levels and creating a sustainability culture has to be the work of all us, it just isn’t going to happen if we don’t transform the way we do business and without C-level representation it isn’t going to happen fast enough. One executive who speaks eloquently on culture and consciousness is Dominque Conseil, Global President of Aveda. Give him a listen, links are to his videos on EarthSayers.tv, voices of sustainability.
Where does this leave Corporate Social Responsibility?
In the Economic Intelligence Unit’s, Future Tense Report (2008), they reference IBM’s transformative efforts at removing barriers between its communications functions which in addition to the more traditional of marcom, media and PR was to include the”corporate citizenship” function. This was not seen by IBM as a reorganization, but about rethinking. No word on how things are going, but it’s a good point to start a conversation.