Building a Sustainability Team

Jake Stevens
August 8, 2020

A whole-of-organization approach to ESG.

In the beginning ESG was assigned to CFOs, CIOs, and later to CSOs as an auxiliary accounting or compliance function. Leaders have now come to realize ESG is a culture change initiative even more comprehensive than the lean operational excellence initiatives that spread about in the 70's.

How well ESG is implemented affects everything from consumer sentiment to employee trust and burnout to success attracting and retaining investment. As different ESG regulations become passed in multiple global jurisdictions - the going concern of your business now hinges on getting ESG right and that starts with a strong point team.

The Sustainability Committee

Forming a committee comprised of representatives from the various functional units that encompass ESG drives sustainability through an organization by keeping key stakeholders from across the organization engaged, committed, and aligned. Depending on the size of your organization, some of these roles may be consolidated and don't represent individuals as much as a functions.

Ensure gender and racial parity while striving for at least half of the committee to be under 30 with at least one individual under the age of 25. This serves to engage more of the organization beyond top brass and encourages inter-departmental communication rather than top-down delineation. The purpose of the committee is to set priorities, not to technically execute on said priorities, that responsibility is that of the department heads - these priorities should be set by those whom bear the brunt of climate change in the near future.

The committee should be steered by a person responsible for approving external communications or who regularly compiles regulatory reports. The functional areas are as follows:

  • Human Resources
  • Compliance
  • Customer Success
  • Cybersecurity
  • Information Management
  • General Counsel
  • Manufacturing
  • Operations
  • Public Relations
  • Research and Development

This committee should at a minimum meet bi-weekly to keep regular tabs on progress and refine data that is needed for a comprehensive sustainability strategy.

Assessing the current state

It's common to jump right into setting goals and targets, particularly if company leaders have made public commitments at the national or international level. But the first step is to understand the true ESG metrics of company projects and operations in order to craft credible targets with practical roadmaps.

Emissions must be accounted for and relevant disclosure frameworks need to be identified. Understanding how the frameworks and standards would be managed if simply delegated in the organizations current state needs to be understood and analyzed to determine if a change to the organizational structure is required.

Workflow Management

The hardest part of ESG implementation is identifying how sustainability insights and identified risks will be integrated into everyday decisions.

Assessing the current state

It's common to jump right into setting goals and targets, particularly if company leaders have made public commitments at the national or international level. But the first step is to understand the true ESG metrics of company projects and operations in order to craft credible targets with practical roadmaps.

Assessing the current state

It's common to jump right into setting goals and targets, particularly if company leaders have made public commitments at the national or international level. But the first step is to understand the true ESG metrics of company projects and operations in order to craft credible targets with practical roadmaps.

Assessing the current state

It's common to jump right into setting goals and targets, particularly if company leaders have made public commitments at the national or international level. But the first step is to understand the true ESG metrics of company projects and operations in order to craft credible targets with practical roadmaps.