What is a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO)?

Have you ever heard about a position called Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO)? We all know who is a CEO or CFO, however, the word CSO is a new term in the business industry that you have to get to know if you are interested in sustainability. Within this article, we explain what is actually a Chief Sustainability Officer, along with other topics such as the responsibilities of a CSO and the steps you have to make to become a CSO. ????

What is a Chief Sustainability Officer?

The position, of Chief Sustainability Officer, or in another word Environmental Officer has been created in the 21st century with the purpose to formalize the commitment of companies towards environment and sustainability. The implementation of this new job position was also encouraged by the rising ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) movements, that forced corporations to address sustainability and social issues within their daily agendas as well as across their value chain.

In the short term, a Chief Sustainability Officer aims to help companies manage their energy resources, reduce waste and improve health and safety practices. Along with many other responsibilities we have listed below, a CSO is responsible for a company’s environmental impact, resources and plans. Chief Sustainability Officers help their companies evaluate both their current impact on the environment and determine how to increase their sustainable practices in the future.

What are the responsibilities of a CSO?

A Chief Sustainability Officer…

  • Ensures that the actions of the organization compline with all environmental regulations both regional and national
  • Evaluates the company’s current operation and strategy in order to identify and implement possible sustainability improvements
  • Creates plans, proposals and necessary documents for future sustainability projects, grant applications, etc.
  • Conducts research on the latest innovations, news and trends within the environmental industry for possible company improvement
  • Provides courses, training and programs for employees about the importance of sustainable improvement, and environmental awareness. Moreover, educates on which way employees can practice sustainability within their everyday life
  • Keeps an eye on the organization’s data related to environmental regulations
  • Communicates sustainability achievements both inside and outside of the organization
  • Manages sustainability certifications (such as B Corporation, Fair Trade Certified Mark, and Organic Certification)
  • Overviews and controls company’s carbon footprint and environmental impact
  • Manages the company’s waste production and recycling process

Who does a CSO report to?

Only a few times the Chief Sustainability Officer reports directly to the CEO. In most cases, CSOs report to the responsible director of certain departments. If the project or report concerns the monetary side of the company the CSO turns to the CFO, same situation if the focus is on efficiency, the CSO reports then to the COO.

How can I become a CSO?

We divided for you the process of becoming a Chief Sustainability Officer into 5 steps.


In order to become a CSO you have to first acquire a four years bachelor’s degree. The following directions are recommended to choose:

  • Business administration or management

  • Environmental engineering (click here to see vacancies within this industry)

  • Environmental studies or science

  • Finance (click here to see vacancies within this industry)

  • International Business

  • Public administration

  • Social sciences

During this education consider taking extra courses and specialising in environmentalism, biology, ecosystem, environmental economics, policy and ethics.


Search for jobs within the environmental and sustainability industry. Click here to see all of our vacancies.  Seeks for experience and more responsibility. Start from the beginning as an intern or entry-level position in order to learn from your peers and managers. Most CSO needs at least 3-5 years of management experience (click here to see all the manager vacancies) before they become qualified for the Chief Sustainability Officer position.


It is always extra to show your future employer some of your certifications within the sustainability field. Here are some of them that are recommended to acquire:


In order to get your dream leadership position, a master’s diploma in the field of Business Administration is needed. It is always a plus if you seek to specialize in sustainability during this study. Many universities due to the high demand for sustainability, offer courses on Business Administration combined with Sustainability. These often take 2 years due to their complexity. On the other hand, they provide you with a better chance for a CSO position.


Even if you acquired both bachelor’s and master’s degrees do not stop educating yourself. Take extra courses, attend sustainability workshops, volunteer at NGOs, and join related organizations that help you grow and gain experience.


Good luck and don’t forget to check out all of the available vacancies here on Sustainablejobs.nl! ????????


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