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Sustainability Execs Gain Corporate Prominence

plantA new type of executive is emerging across all businesses, ranging from real estate brokerage firms to giant retailers, as they deal with climate change, attract eco-conscious customers and implement alternative energy programs while meeting new regulations, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Sustainability officers are succeeding the diversity managers and innovation specialists of the 1990s with an equal focus on corporate responsibility, public relations and profit, reports the Los Angeles Times.

However, according to a report from the Sustainable Enterprise Institute, among companies in the Russell 1000 Index, only 125 have an executive level committee with responsibility for corporate social responsibility or environmental, health and safety oversight.

In some cases, like David Pogue, at LA real estate brokerage CB Richard Ellis, who was assigned the job to make the firm more energy efficient and environmentally conscious, he had to learn on the job, which included attending “green” conferences and spending hours of reading about the green industry, according to the article.

At larger companies like Coca-Cola Co. and Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc., their chief executives have adopted the sustainability officer title, while other firms add green duties as part of their employee’s job, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Green managers are also becoming a requirement in government as President Obama recently signed an executive order that requires federal agencies to each designate a senior sustainability officer, according to the article.

Despite a recent Ceres investor coalition report of climate change governance practices at 63 of the world’s largest retail, pharmaceutical, technology, apparel and other consumer companies that showed that none have linked C-suite executive compensation directly to climate-related performance, some businesses like National Grid are showing that setting and meeting environmental goals is serious business.

Last year, utility company National Grid announced it would base executive’s compensation, in part, on their performance against targets for reducing carbon emissions.

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