Chief Sustainability Officer – Everything you need to know

Sustainability jobs and sites

What is a Chief Sustainability Officer?

A Chief Sustainability Officer, or someone with a similar title is typically the highest officer position who is responsible for all types of sustainability in an organization. The position of CSO has been created at an increasing number of companies over the past few years. In 2003, twice as many companies had full-time sustainability officers than in 1995, and between 2003 and 2008, the number doubled again, research shows. (The first CSO (pdf) with that title in an American publicly traded company is believed to be DuPont’s Linda Fisher, appointed in 2004.)

Chief Sustainability officer jobs are getting more popular as well. Just about every chief sustainability officer surveyed reported as having a higher education. Almost 50% hold at least a bachelor’s degree, with the rest having either a master’s degree or holding a certification after receiving their bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree needed may depend on your experience. 

What does a Chief Sustainability Officer do?

A chief sustainability officer is a leader within an organization whose responsibility is to address sustainability issues. They develop strategies to reduce a company’s overall population footprint (or ecological footprint) so that they can reduce their energy consumption, recycle more often, find ways to reuse materials and reduce pollution output. Chief Sustainability Officers communicate and coordinate with management, shareholders, customers, and employees to address sustainability issues. Enact or oversee a corporate sustainability strategy. They also develop or execute strategies to address issues such as energy use, resource conservation, recycling, pollution reduction, waste elimination, transportation, education, and building design. A typical day for a Chief Sustainability Officer will also include:

  • Develop or execute strategies to address issues such as energy use, resource conservation, recycling, pollution reduction, waste elimination, transportation, education, and building design.
  • Direct sustainability program operations to ensure compliance with environmental or governmental regulations.
  • Create and maintain sustainability program documents, such as schedules and budgets.
  • Review sustainability program objectives, progress, or status to ensure compliance with policies, standards, regulations, or laws.
  • Monitor and evaluate effectiveness of sustainability programs.
  • On a weekly to monthly basis, Chief Sustainability Officers create and maintain sustainability program documents, such as schedules and budgets. They also research environmental sustainability issues, concerns, or stakeholder interests.
  • Supervise employees or volunteers working on sustainability projects.
  • Research environmental sustainability issues, concerns, or stakeholder interests.
  • Develop methodologies to assess the viability or success of sustainability initiatives.
  • Monitor and evaluate effectiveness of sustainability programs.
  • Evaluate and approve proposals for sustainability projects, considering factors such as cost effectiveness, technical feasibility, and integration with other initiatives.
  • Develop, or oversee the development of, marketing or outreach media for sustainability projects or events.

Jobs similar to a Chief Sustainability Officer job

  • Director, VP, EVP, or SVP of Sustainability
  • Environmental policy manager
  • Director of Environment, energy, & safety
  • Director of social & environmental responsibility
  • Chief officer of Environment
  • Social & environmental sustainability manager
  • Chief of environmental health and safety
  • Certified sustainability administrator

Best Chief Sustainability Officer Videos

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About the author

Jess Man

Jessica is the Editor-in-Chief and Senior Diversity Advisor at Diversity Social. Jessica has over 10 years of working with and advising employers to be more diverse and create an inclusive working environment.
Jessica's experience spans private and non-profit sectors in multiple industries.
Jessica's expertise experience is beyond Diversity & Inclusion, she is also a certified professional IT recruiter in Data & Analytics, Database administration, Artificial Intelligence area.