When I was a director of a financial institution in the 1990s, we struggled in vain to get top executives to pay attention to the Board’s sustainability priorities. To no avail. Then we stumbled upon the idea of rewarding the CEO for long-term sustainability performance. The result? We saw a dramatic improvement in the company’s sustainability performance from then on (financial performance, too!). Once we realized the impact of this simple measure, the board quickly embedded the principle in its compensation philosophy, which, in turn, spread the concept throughout the management ranks.
It’s a bird … It’s a plane … No, it’s a CFO — the new sustainability superhero!
CFOs are emerging as the new superheroes of the sustainability world. Their unique perspectives, skills, tools and roles empower them to advance corporate sustainability in the rapidly changing marketplace. Deloitte’s global research [PDF] reveals that finance’s sustainability role is on the rise: In 2012, 26 percent of CFOs from large companies indicated they had sustainability authority, up from 17 percent a year earlier. Nearly two-thirds of these finance chiefs expect their involvement to increase by 2014.