CSOs have become part of boardroom furniture

Boardroom table and chairs

Sustainability leaders are a growing force in corporate boardrooms with a new survey revealing the significant input they have on decision-making, strategy and budgets.

Analyst firm Verdantix quizzed senior sustainability decision-makers and budget-holders from 260 firms with revenues from $250 million to over $20 billion headquartered in 13 countries, including the U.K., China, the U.S. and India, to build up a picture of the role of green executives within global industry.

It found 92 percent of firms have a sustainability leader reporting directly into the chief executive or another member of the executive committee.

This may be because chief executives increasingly recognize that sustainability impacts financial performance. 28 percent of those surveyed agreed there is a direct link, compared to 21 percent in 2012's survey.

This growing recognition is evident in the budgets that chief sustainability officers now wield. Just under two-thirds of CSOs own budgets worth up to $2.5 million, while a quarter manage up to $15 million and 5 percent have control of budgets worth over $15 million.

"We found that while few sustainability leaders point to large budget increases, our results reveal sustainability spending across entire organizations is typically up to 10 times bigger than the sustainability team's budget with over two-thirds expecting corporate-wide spending growth," stated Yaowen Ma, Verdantix analyst and author of the report.

However, while eight out of 10 companies already publish sustainability reports, only 39 percent of those pay for external assurance of their entire reports, which suggests there is still a way to go before sustainability best practices are embedded throughout blue-chip organizations.

Top image of boardroom by hxdbzxy via Shutterstock. This article first appeared at BusinessGreen.