Written by Tori Mathison for Fashion Journal When social media initially blew up, there were hundreds of new roles created around curating a brand’s socials. The role of a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) came about in a similar way.
Introduced in response to consumers’ growing appetite for sustainable fashion, the role was a way that brands could not only do better but be seen to do better, too.
Photo Credit - Marcus Spiske
The fashion industry is wreaking havoc on the environment
The fashion industry produces 10 per cent of the entire planet’s carbon emissions, along with being the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply. Given the fashion industry’s brutally slow recognition of its environmental impact, the CSO role is relatively new, which means it’s also a title that is constantly evolving.
In recent years we have seen retail businesses investing heavily in their brands’ online presence. This thriving E-commerce climate has created new ways for businesses to engage with their customers, but it’s also raised concerns for how they manage the sustainability side of things behind the scenes.
When looking at environmental accountability, it’s about understanding both the impact and the influence. Big dogs like H&M, Nike, Adidas and Reformation have been some of the first to publicly bear allegiance to the fight for a climate solution with the introduction of CSOs.
But it’s also hard to gauge the long-term impact that they will have, assuming it isn’t just virtue signalling. It’s also worth noting that until all departments have radicalised their processes and priorities, no business can genuinely be considered truly sustainable.
So what does a CSO actually do? By understanding the environmental impact at each stage of the supply chain, a CSO can build initiatives and suggest actions that will improve outcomes and working conditions. The overall target is to help a business reap the majority of its profits from products that address environmental and social issues.
New climate challenges and legislative frameworks will constantly influence business objectives, so it’s difficult to clarify a cut-and-dry definition of what a CSO does. So we spoke to one instead.
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Complete article written by: Tori Mathison for Fashion Journal