Sustainability Roles & Responsibilities

15.11.2022

Why sustainability roles and responsibilities are the kick-start for getting your sustainability activities rolling within the company.

They play an important role in CSRD regulation and ESRS sustainability reporting requirements. Indeed, they are even more than that: they decide if sustainability gets rolling in a company and takes momentum or not. The first thing companies need to do is to define basic roles and responsibilities for sustainability. This can kick-start activities such as materiality analysis or strategy processes.

This is what you could do:

1๏ธโƒฃ ๐—–๐—˜๐—ข ๐—ผ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐—น๐—ฒ
Given the strategic and transformational character of sustainability, overall responsibility is with the CEO.

2๏ธโƒฃ ๐—–๐—™๐—ข ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐—น๐—ฒ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—˜๐—ฆ๐—š-๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด/๐—œ๐—ฅ
The ESG reporting is increasingly linked to investor relations and the capital market. Therefore, companies move up sustainability KPIs and reporting to regular Finance & Controlling with the interface to investor relations.

3๏ธโƒฃ ๐—˜๐˜…๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐˜‚๐˜๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜† ๐—•๐—ผ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ
Executive board sets strategy and targets, decides strategic initiatives. The supervisory board is responsible for supervising the executive board with respect to ESG opportunities & risks.

4๏ธโƒฃ ๐—˜๐˜…๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—”๐—ฑ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜† ๐—•๐—ผ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ
A board of diverse external sustainability experts who contribute outside sustainability perspective and expertise to the company.

5๏ธโƒฃ ๐——๐—ฒ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐— ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ฟ
A dedicated sustainability manager reports to the CEO, connecting the dots and coordinating sustainability activities within the company.

6๏ธโƒฃ ๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ง๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—บ
Larger companies face diverse sustainability requirements specifically on communication, measuring and reporting that the sustainability manager has own staff as support.

7๏ธโƒฃ ๐—˜๐—ป๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ฅ๐—ผ๐—น๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—–๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—™๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€
To embed sustainability in the company, it is important to enrich existing core functions with sustainability aspects, e.g. in procurement, marketing, sales or production, this can include specific responsibilities or also consulting or veto roles in decisions.

8๏ธโƒฃ ๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐—–๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€
To engage employees and broaden sustainability culturally in the organization and in different locations, sustainability champion roles are often captured by intrinsically motivated employees, independent of function and hierarchy, who coordinate local sustainability activities at their location and act as a multiplier.

sustainability roles

Mid-sized companies can start with the tandem of managing director and a dedicated Sustainability Manager role efficiently, starting basic processes such as materiality analysis and a sustainability strategy, which then includes further actions on detailing roles and responsibilities in the organization.