Insights Blog



By QLK Team
on Feb 14, 2022
  • Healthcare | Recruiting | Blog
The Rise and Future of the Chief Sustainability Officer

We learn every passing day about new ways that medicine, science, regulations, and technology directly affect the future of healthcare. Interest in and commitment to "ESG" (Environmental, Social and Governance) matters have skyrocketed in the last few years. This ESG focus and healthcare advances have led to positions like the "Chief Sustainability Officer." An effective CSO can analyze and predict an organization's present stability, future outlook, and environmental impact. Hiring a CSO is a growing trend for healthcare facilities that want to protect the environment and comply with new and emerging regulations that are growing by the day. A CSO can pay full attention to Environmental criteria to improve the ESG rating that has become the lens through which all organizations are viewed.

What Is a Chief Sustainability Officer?

A CSO is a relatively new position emerging due to increased societal awareness of sustainability issues and the ESG spotlight in organizations. CSOs advise their organizations to balance the company goals while minimizing damage to the environment. In many communities the local hospital is the greatest consumer of natural and human resources which has a dramatic impact on the Environment.

CSOs help organizations succeed in the three stages of sustainability:

  1. Compliance: Compliance is the first stage of sustainability. This is the stage in which companies are following and complying with regulations.
  2. Efficiency: In this stage, CSOs help facilities become more strategic in their sustainability efforts. A CSO will find methods to achieve efficiencies that will save a company money, such as cutting energy and water use.
  3. Innovation: The third stage is where an organization integrates sustainability into the core of its business. CFOs look to create strategies driven by the market, maximize long-term profitability, and focus on sustainability efforts that address significant societal concerns, like climate change or obesity.

In healthcare, a CSO will analyze the practices being employed by medical facilities and find ways to mitigate the environmental footprint they leave behind. Activities and policies often include:

  • Recycling policies
  • Energy use revision
  • Reducing pollution output
  • Education on environmental factors

If a hospital, clinic, or laboratory produces excessive environmental damage, the CSO tries to rectify it. A successful CSO needs to be an analytical and creative problem solver to introduce these solutions without negatively affecting the facility's effectiveness.

Are Chief Sustainability Officer roles Sustainable?

The question whether CSOs will still be around in ten years is a valid one given how divided Americans are on climate change and other environmental concerns. Given the surge in interest and funding--which quadrupled from 2018-2019—for ESG transparency and monitoring, a CSO position will be relevant for years to come. CSOs are C-suite executives who can help reduce the effects a healthcare facility has on the planet while maintaining financial, professional and ESG standards.

CSOs have become a verified executive role and now share the top administrative growth rate. According to the BLS' (Bureau of Labor Statistics) projections for 2020 to 2030, CSO opportunities will have an 8% growth rate. This growth rate is at pace with other established positions which help affirm the validity of the role.

Searching for a Chief Sustainability Officer? QLK can help.

The role of the CSO was conceived in the past two decades, yet it has become an increasingly popular position within the healthcare industry. With enough time, there might well be a CSO in every significant business in the country, helping us find that balance between industrialism and environmental awareness. While that might be an inspiring notion, it might not be long before CSOs are in high demand with no supply to be found.

If you want to get a jump on hiring a CSO for your organization, partner with the search consultants at QLK.

Quick Leonard Kieffer focuses on recruiting all C-suite executives in the healthcare industry with industry expertise, vast experience and critical technology. Contact our team at QLK today to see how we can help you help others in the most sustainable ways possible. If you have any questions regarding what a Chief Sustainability Officer can do for your company, we can consult with you to share our knowledge and experience.