Why do the world's major companies need Chief Sustainability Officers?
Updated 18:16, 08-Nov-2021


A Chief Sustainability Officer is becoming an increasingly vital member of staff for the world's major companies.

But what exactly is their role? And, while multinational corporations can afford to have one – how does sustainability fit into smaller, more local businesses.

Allan Xie An, Deloitte China's Climate and Sustainability Service Leader, joins The Agenda to explain the growth of the CSO in China.


Allan Xie An is Deloitte China's Climate and Sustainability Service Leader.

He also functions as the company's Northern Region Deputy Managing Partner as well as a Leading Partner for Risk Advisory Clients and industries.


"This concept (a Chief Sustainability Officer) is relatively new in China, but actually... we can see that more and more big companies, especially financial institutions, they are appointing a CSO as part of their management."

Xie goes on to explain why he thinks that is. "First it's the expectation of external shareholders. If their expectation is very high, the current management structure cannot meet that expectation. So the organization may need a CSO to play that kind of role, to coordinate internally and externally. And the other reason is that the fast-changing external regulations all over the world, including in China, we have seen more and more new regulations announced so organizations need this role to integrate such kinds of external requirements."

But, he says, in China as a whole, and indeed across the world, the focus on sustainability very much depends on the size of the company: "I can say that for the more mature and the bigger companies, they are more focused on the improvement of their social responsibility, climate change etc. But for smaller companies… their focus is on how to survive, how to make more money globally."


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