By CSO, I mean Chief Sustainability Officer and I’m serious. I’m not one for more layers of bureaucracy and extra non-productive meetings, but this is something that businesses should consider. After reading this short post, you’ll know why I think businesses should create the position, but you decide and let me know what you think. Way back in June, NYC Mayor Bloomberg announced the creation of an "Office of Sustainability," to explore ways to reduce carbon emissions. Similarly, I read a recent article in Dallas Business Journal regarding Plano’s (Texas) decision to create a new position and hire Nancy Nevil as the City’s Director of Sustainability and Environmental Services. Why create a director-level position? So there could be a point person, an accountable person. She gets $109,288 a year, and one of her responsibilities is educating the city and its 2,200 employees about ways to reduce consumption of energy and materials. I’m sure many other cities are doing similar things–Plano decided to do this after visiting Portland and studying their green initiatives.
If your company is like most, you have the perfunctory recycle bin, but likely you still consume enormous amounts of paper, right? How does your company manage lights when no one is around? What’s the company’s recommended setting for computers when you leave work for the day or weekend? Does the company incentivize carpooling? Is there a place where bikers can store their clothing and equipment during work, or change? Generally, where could your company be environmentally conscious and see results on the bottom line (cut expenses)? Where could your company change its mix or products and services to be more sustainable and profitable? These queries probably don’t do justice to the value a company could realize by having a specific position for sustainability and environmental issues. This is innovation! Think hard about whether your company could benefit from having a CSO.
My Experience and Opinion:
I’m an MBA student and noticed that sustainability courses are catching on in some forward-thinking programs (i.e., Presidio, Green MBA, Stanford, etc.). So I wanted to find a professor and do some cutting-edge, sustainability research for MBA-level credit because we don’t have any courses on the subject. Guess what? I can’t find a soul that’s interested in the research. Maybe I haven’t found the right person, but I haven’t gotten so much as a response from the department strategy chair. Why? Sustainability isn’t on the business person’s radar. Why? I can’t figure it out. These are the surest, noblest money-making opportunities of our time.
So, I’m writing an outline for an MBA-level course called "Sustainable Strategy, Business, and Entrepreneurship," and I’m going to write the lesson plans, assignments, and exams. When I graduate, I’m going to pitch the course to MBA schools and teach adjunct-style (still want to work in business during day). This is a topic that needs to be on our radars. Image.