Sustainability Officer – A Look Behind the Title


After I introduce myself to others, I typically want my job title had been less complicated. In spite of everything, “Chief Technique and Sustainability Officer” (CSSO) is a little bit of a mouthful. Nonetheless, it’s nice to be a part of a bunch of individuals, whose ranks have greater than tripled during the last decade as environmental issues have climbed up the company agenda.

It’s not simply that laws across the globe has pushed company environmental, social and governance (ESG) motion ahead – or that traders, prospects and workers count on corporations to do extra on these fronts. CEOs themselves now acknowledge ESG as each a enterprise crucial and development driver. A latest examine from the IBM Institute for Enterprise Worth powerfully highlighted this level.

No marvel: In spite of everything, corporations that actively drive and remodel their enterprise with optimistic environmental and social influence in thoughts are prone to show extra profitable and resilient, and to generate extra shareholder worth within the medium- to long-run. Sustainability is their passport to function into the longer term.


Being an influence firm: Interweaving technique and sustainability is tough however not inconceivable

Paul Polman, the previous CEO of Unilever and a outstanding campaigner for company accountability, refers to corporations which have embraced an influence firm mindset as “web optimistic”.

Behind my “CSSO” job title stands the notion that corporations that really wish to have an enduring optimistic influence should synchronize sustainability and technique. They’ve to make sure that sustainability issues don’t simply inform what they do, however that they drive company decision-making.

Imagine me, that’s no imply feat. However neither is it inconceivable.

Take the choice we took to launch our distinctive Inexperienced PremiumTM program in 2008 to offer extra sustainable merchandise and be clear with environmental info with our prospects. At present, 78% of our product gross sales come from this program, and we plan to succeed in 80% by 2025.

Prior to now few years, we’ve additionally advanced this system to combine Schneider’s EcoDesign ApproachTM 1 course of and inexperienced worth proposition. For instance, we have now a “take-back” program that’s collected over 14,000 tonnes of batteries globally for recycling from prospects.

Strategic shifts and initiatives like these aren’t straightforward, and so they take years to execute. Having a mixed strategy-and-sustainability construction in place makes it far simpler to make sure they’re deliberate and executed holistically – reaping synergies and producing most influence for the corporate and its stakeholders.

And having the technique and sustainability remits underneath one “CSSO” umbrella helps do that by unifying an organization’s organizational set-up.

Take one other instance. In 2021, we launched the Zero Carbon Challenge to assist our high suppliers halve their CO2 emissions in lower than 5 years. We couldn’t have initiated such an impactful undertaking if we hadn’t been capable of carry collectively our numerous consultants on the atmosphere, decarbonization, digital providers and extra.

All that is a part of a far larger transformation for Schneider Electrical. A decade or two in the past, we had been a hardware-focused engineering firm. Now, we’re a know-how firm centered on providers and software program options that ship effectivity and sustainability in workplace buildings, factories, knowledge facilities, infrastructure, non-public properties and extra – thus addressing a serious supply of worldwide carbon emissions.

We’re additionally recurrently acknowledged for our ESG efficiency. That is anchored in our complete net-zero science-based targets and an bold influence plan for 2025 that features saving 800 million tons of CO2 emissions for our prospects by that point.

Being an influence firm: Entrance, heart and collectively

sustainability officer

An enormous a part of my on a regular basis job is to liaise with my enterprise and operations counterparts to assist them help the decarbonization journey of our prospects and provide chain companions. The demand from them for sustainability recommendation has by no means been larger – and we’ve developed our expertise base and capabilities accordingly.

The identical goes for the work we do with worldwide organizations, coverage makers, and local weather and power consultants. To fulfill their demand for insights from us – as an answer supplier, a sustainability skilled, and an influence firm – we arrange the Schneider Electrical Sustainability Analysis Institute, whose in-depth reviews inform and information the worldwide and regional coverage debate.

The problem and alternative for influence corporations lies in repeatedly partaking with and mobilizing inside and exterior stakeholders. To that impact, we not too long ago launched a sustainability college for workers, and issuedthe first sustainability-linked bonds to traders and shareholders.

Our Entry to Power enterprise and schooling program helps hundreds of thousands of individuals get hold of higher residing requirements and work alternatives, and we even have native ESG commitments  within the greater than 100 markets we’re current in.

Being an influence firm CSSO: It’s not merely concerning the job title

There’s a lot we are able to do. My job is to assist flip impactful concepts into precise packages – and straddling each the Technique and Sustainability remits permits me to do that, by guaranteeing that our goal, mission and values aren’t only a side-show, however that they infuse and drive each facet of enterprise technique.

On the finish of the day, corporations that wish to do good should additionally do properly – and vice versa. And they should carry everybody alongside on this journey.

That’s what being an influence firm is all about. And people are the rules I’ll maintain following. It’s not concerning the job title – it’s about working with the like-minded folks round me to make an enduring optimistic influence on the planet and society.

Gwenaelle is Chief Technique & Sustainability Officer of Schneider Electrical and has been a member of the Government Committee since April 1, 2022. Gwenaelle leads the event of Company Technique, Mergers & Acquisitions and Divestment actions, Sustainability, and Buyer Satisfaction & High quality.  

1  EcoDesign ApproachTM is the Schneider Electrical devoted course of to make sure environmental efficiency is embedded into our Provide Creation Course of (OCP).


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