A Money + Meaning Podcast with Kate Shattuck and Sharon Egilinsky of Korn Ferry and Adam Heltzer of Ares Management Corporation
“The ESG piece of reporting and metrics was only the first part of the movement. Now we’re in a situation where the CSO becomes sort of the shepherd to explain that there is a business case.” — Sharon Egilinsky, Korn Ferry
As companies face growing demands from customers, investors, employees, and regulators to improve their environmental and social impact, some are creating or adding to the job of chief sustainability officer (CSO). Through a broader scope and emphasis, this sustainability-focused role can help organizations meet new expectations and set a path toward a more resilient future.
A new Money + Meaning episode builds on information from a new report from Korn Ferry on The Rise of the Chief Sustainability Officer, which incorporates information from interviews with more than 50 CEOs and CSOs on the role of sustainability in their operations, strategy, culture, and leadership. The conversation, moderated by Imogen Rose-Smith, Managing Director of Confluence Partners, explores how the rise of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations among stakeholders has more companies looking to incorporate sustainability throughout their enterprises and drive business success.
Kate Shattuck, Co-Founder of Impact Investing Practice at Korn Ferry, has seen organizations adapt to ensure their sustainability efforts are meaningful and business-oriented. “Customers are demanding that organizations are not just giving lip service to sustainability,” she said. “There are some leaders of companies — CEOs and board members — that understand if they don’t pay attention to sustainability, they could lose a competitive advantage.”
Her Korn Ferry colleague Sharon Egilinsky, who advises clients around the world on ESG in her role as Senior Client Partner, says sustainability is seen as a driver for business growth and profitability. “The ESG piece of reporting and metrics was only the first part of the movement. Now we’re in a situation where the CSO becomes sort of the shepherd to explain that there is a business case,” Egilinsky said. “You don’t have to sacrifice profit completely to be a sustainable company, and there are stakeholder demands for more sustainability and ESG fulfillment.”
That includes integrating ESG throughout a company and its core services. Adam Heltzer, Partner and Head of ESG at Ares Management Corporation said the company also reinforced the importance of sustainability work through its organizational structure as well as its investment platform. “It was a very deliberate choice by the executive team to say if this was to deliver strategic value to the firm, it has to sit very closely to the person who guides the strategy of the company, and that’s our CEO,” he said. “You have to demonstrate your credentials in being able to say ‘Here’s the big vision, and how we chop that up into implementable work, how we share the work across the firm (and) set goals and achieve them.”
Listen to the full conversation on The Evolving Role of the Chief Sustainability Officer
Money + Meaning is the official podcast of SOCAP. The series aims to expand the conversation around impact investing and strategies to finance and support social change while stimulating innovative and valuable new partnerships across sectors.