I believe there are three primary drivers of sustainability especially among corporate entities: profitability (when businesses see that pursuing sustainable practices does not mean profits must be sacrificed); convenience (when businesses make and sell the connection between sustainability and convenience); and a balance of carrots and sticks (when government sets the rules so there is an even playing field and incentives and penalties help businesses transition to a more sustainable way of doing business). If this is the “what” in the next wave of sustainability, the next logical question might be who will bring about this change.
The presence of corporate (or chief) sustainability officers (CSOs) is becoming commonplace among the most successful companies. AccountAbility CEO Sunil A. Misser offers that CSOs are typically responsible for reducing costs by improving energy, supply chain, and resource efficiencies; establishing processes to monitor, manage, and mitigate sustainability-related risks; managing and monitoring stakeholder engagement processes that spearhead innovations to increase revenue; and enhancing the reputation of the company and the value of the brand. Misser goes on to point out that the number of CSOs has increased recently for three main reasons:
- CEOs and business leaders have realized there is tremendous value to be gained by mainstreaming sustainability into business practices.
- Companies are increasingly approaching sustainability with the same level of discipline (i.e. planning, execution, measurement, reporting) that is demanded in every other functional area.
- Companies have been pressured to elevate sustainability to the C-suite by regulators, media, shareholders, consumers, competitors, and other stakeholders.
Sustainability is expanding rapidly into the parking industry, and great work is being done in many places. But it may be that we haven’t yet resourced our efforts appropriately until we do as many successful corporate entities have by adding the strategic position of corporate or chief sustainability officer to our leadership teams. From parking management company to manufacturer and service provider, now might be the time to add a CSO to your leadership team to ensure that you make the most of your sustainability efforts.