The Importance of Sustainability Leadership in Corporate Organizations

The German ‘Lebensmittel Zeitung’ (leading trade and business paper of the consumer goods sector) recently published an insightful article based on an interview with Carmen Koch, Partner Consumer, Retail, and Digital at H.I.E.C shedding light on the growing importance of sustainability leadership in corporate organizations. The original German article, titled “Haltung wird Recruiting-Thema” explores the increasing demand for executives who possess a strong affinity for public welfare issues, particularly in the realm of climate protection.

Carmen Koch, Partner Consumer, Retail & Digital at H.I.E.C

The demand for executives with an affinity for public welfare issues such as climate protection is increasing, particularly in large strategy consulting and industrial companies. This need is becoming more evident at the executive level as well. Carmen notes that there is a growing number of search requests for Chief Sustainable Officers from the United States and Asia in comparison to the quite well-developed European market. Companies recognize the importance of sustainability and are actively seeking individuals who can build and implement sustainability strategies based on their specific strategic and product environment. The demand for sustainability expertise has arrived in international corporations across functions and, in the next step, are anchored at board level with the position of Chief Sustainability Officer – as at Unilever.

The demand for sustainability expertise or at least an affinity is also increasing in other leadership positions such as Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Human Officer. The Chief People Officer plays an important role in shaping the corporate culture, the employer value proposition, and external communication of sustainability aspects. In addition, the function of Sustainability Manager will be more established compared to before. These talents have background either in corporate responsibility or internal communication and develop their own job profile.

It is noteworthy that sustainability particularly attracts female executives, as they are more motivated to contribute to the greater good. An important insight is that the attitude and personal commitment to sustainability are crucial when seeking candidates who can make a difference. Younger candidates are often already actively engaged in sustainable lifestyles, while older candidates may still be unfamiliar with these practices.

The article highlights that companies wishing to meet the challenges of sustainability must increasingly rely on executives who not only possess expertise but also demonstrate a positive attitude and active engagement in sustainable issues.

To read the original article in German, please follow this link.