The role of the sustainability manager in the company

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responsabile della sostenibilità

The topic of sustainability is becoming increasingly popular even within Italian companies. This translates into the adoption of different ESG strategies aimed at bringing together the environmental, social and economic soul of the topic.

To be able to make the best use of the available tools and ensure that these strategies are integrated organically within the business model, it is increasingly necessary to introduce a specialized figure within the organization. This is the sustainability manager, also called sustainability manager (RSO).

Deloitte conducted the survey “The role of the sustainability manager in the company” in order to explore the role of RSOs and determine what they believe to be the priorities, challenges and necessary skills. In particular, 41 sustainability managers, but also 500 Italian companies, were interviewed to compare the different perspectives of the two parties.

The role of the sustainability manager

In primo luogo, Deloitte ha indagato i principali compiti di cui questi esperti si devono fare carico.

According to companies that have introduced or plan to adopt an RSO, this figure must focus above all on research and development activities and innovation management. Furthermore, it must develop the management and improvement of the impact of the business on the community and territory in which it operates.

The RSOs interviewed, on the contrary, believe that it is essential to focus on optimizing production, through the application of the principles of reducing resource consumption, with a view to circular economy and energy efficiency. Product innovation and research, however, rank only in third place.

Reports from the sustainability manager

The second fundamental theme explored by Deloitte concerns the diffusion and relationship network of sustainability managers within Italian companies.

Currently, only 7% of companies have a figure who deals exclusively with sustainability and, in the majority of cases, this has only existed for 2-5 years.

As regards the analysis of the network of relationships within the organisation, it can provide useful information not only to identify the main interlocutors, but also to identify the main areas of intervention and their relative weight in the company structure.

According to companies, RSOs should interface primarily with the human resources and research and development departments. On the contrary, those directly involved believe it is essential to establish a direct relationship with top management, since sustainability strategies serve to change the business model.

The skills of the sustainability manager

To be able to carry out this project, it is therefore necessary for RSOs to have a long-term vision, in addition to technical skills in the specific sector context.

Companies also agree on this aspect, but they believe it is necessary for the sustainability manager to also have good listening and communication skills.

The future of the sustainability manager

Given the growing need for customers and suppliers to integrate the topic of sustainability into all projects, both companies and sustainability managers themselves believe that there will be an evolution of the professional figure.

According to the former, it will be necessary to manage customer needs and critical situations for sustainability, while those directly involved think they will focus above all on regulatory compliance, which is complex and constantly evolving.

We are therefore still in an evolutionary phase, but the hope is that the role of those responsible for sustainability will be quickly consolidated. Their role in the company is destined to be increasingly important to respond to the needs of the legislation and the expectations of stakeholders internal and external to the companies.