Discuss the role of the CEO in sustainability efforts and reporting. Does sustainability reporting provide useful information for CEO’s strategic decisions? Is it possible to promote sustainability efforts in an organization if the CEO is opposed? How does the size of the organization impact these efforts?
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CEO’s are directly responsible for steering the course for their company’s corporate social responsibility and sustainability strategies. As with most decisions things that are decided at the top and trickle down throughout the organization. The same can be said for a company’s culture. If a CEO is passionate about issues they can steer the entire organization to care about those issues through training and prioritization.
Sustainability reporting provides extremely useful information to stakeholders giving them an inside look into the course the CEO is charting for the company. It offers stakeholders a chance to evaluate the efforts the company is currently undertaking and to communicate their feedback as well as changes they’d like to see.
It’s extremely difficult to promote sustainability efforts within an organization if the CEO is opposed. There could be some sub-cultures within the organization or stakeholders that desire specific changes but depending on the amount of power they wield they will have varying degrees of success that will most likely be short lived. I believe the only way to have lasting sustainability efforts adopted within an organization is to have buy in from the CEO and senior leadership.
I believe the larger the organization is the smaller the impact the CEO will have on the sustainability efforts. If the company is split into many large groups the key leaders in charge of those groups can have considerable sway over the course that group will take. A good CEO should build a senior leadership team that has diversity of thought but also people that buy into the company’s culture and permeate it down to the individual contributors.
The role of the CEO is vital to sustainability efforts and reporting. The CEO is the leader of the business/organization and should be transparent about what the company would like to accomplish in regard to sustainability goals. The CEO should be having meeting with stakeholders and shareholders to communicate where the business is compared to the goals that were set and comparing to other businesses along with providing reports. There is a lot of useful information in sustainability reports and from what I have read, yes, there is insight into the CEO’s strategic decisions. Any company want to make money but when discussing sustainability along with making money, the decisions around what to do for society and the economy for the long term to continue to make money and meet goals all tie together. I believe it is possible to promote sustainability in any organization if the CEO is opposed but it will only go so far and last for so long. “Experience show that in order for sustainability to be successfully mainstreamed into a business, employees, the CEO and other stakeholders must be fully engaged.” (Weybrecht, Ch. 5) People all around can support but when leadership is not participating and making it a priority it will never last. “The individual at the top of the organization has a tremendous influence over how an organization operates.” “A consistent message from the top, CEO, would help push change across the company.” (Webrecht, Ch. 13) The CEO does not have to be the one to start and create the sustainability efforts. Just because an employee is not titled as a leader, they could be a leader on the efforts of sustainability practices. To be successful longterm the company needs the buy in from stakeholders and ultimately the CEO.“Many times, the culture of a company is created not by those at the top but rather is created from the bottom up.” (Weybrecht, Ch. 13) I believe the larger the organization the more difficult it is to start the sustainability efforts and even maintain them. Being transparent and communicating is a huge factor and when you look at global companies sharing the same message across the world versus a smaller company in just one state takes on a lot more work. No matter what size of company though, if the CEO makes it a priority it can be successful. The United Nations Global Compact has sutainability goals set for 2030 and currently things are not making as much progress as people expected. “CEOs acknowledge the problem; they believe there is real opportunity to embrace the Global Goals.” (Trapp, 2019) This shows that CEOs are not currently investing the efforts needed to meet the goals and need to make it a bigger priority.
Webreecht, G. 2014. The sutainable MBA: The Manager’s Guide To Green Business. 2nd Ed. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
The role of sustainability and reporting efforts, directly rely on the CEO. They are in charge of making sure that the company is committed to being a globalcorporate citizen, relationships with key stakeholders are fundamental to the company’s success, and the leadership rests with the CEOs, chairmen, and the board directors. The CEOs are in charge of making sure that he company is always doing the right thing and following all of the laws put into place to protect both the workers and the environment. When the CEO receives information about how well/ poorly the company is doing in the aspect of environment, labor conditions, wages, or ethics and does nothing to help or promote better conditions, then the CEO should be held responsible for their actions. They are the voice of the company, if they are not on board for what their stakeholders want is right it is not a good combination. They are in the driver’s seat for the business and they choose the path in which way the company goes.
It will be very difficult for the CEO to remain head of the business if their values and the values of the business do not align. They are essentially the spokesperson for the company. When people see the CEO, they should see the values that they company holds in them. If that is not present, then there is a very large disconnect and it will be very hard for the CEO and the company to work together. CEOs need to make sure that they walk the talk by sending clear and consistent messages and doing this by their own actions. I believe that CEOs of bigger corporations have a bigger burden to bare then the ones of smaller ones. This is because in big corporations, everyone will know what the business is and what their goal or practices are. However, if it was just a regional or even statewide business it would be a difficult time making it a national issue. Where the big corporations are in many states, the smaller ones might just be in one or two states. This means that they cannot get their message and image across like the bigger corporations.
Webreecht, G. 2014. The sustainable MBA: The Manager’s Guide To Green Business