As I alluded to in May, growth in the chief sustainability officer (CSO) role continues to build. This month, with the appointment of Matthew Nelson as the EY Oceania Chief Sustainability Officer, a newly created role, EY became the first of the Big 4 consulting firms to appoint a chief sustainability officer into such a senior position.
“We know that environmental, social and governance (ESG), sustainability and climate change are broad agendas impacting clients across their entire organizations, functions and operations,” said CEO elect David Larocca. “In this new role, Mathew will bring together all activity currently underway across Service Lines, Industry sectors and Markets so that we can go to market with a whole firm approach. He will also lead EYs own internal Oceania corporate responsibility agenda.”
In a statement, the firm said it was committed to a sustainability agenda that it hopes will see it become carbon negative in 2021 and achieve net zero emissions by 2025.
The move follows a series of senior ESG appointments in May, including Orlan Boston as Americas ESG Markets Leader, Velislava Ivanova as Americas Chief Sustainability Officer, and Megan Hobson as U.S. Corporate Sustainability Leader.
Other Big 4 consulting firms are making significant organizational changes related to sustainability as well.
PwC, for example, announced earlier this month a new international strategy that will increase focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) services, digital, and the concept of “trust.” The firm plans to invest $12 billion and add 100,000 people in the next five years.
The investment budget is a significant increase over the last five years, when PwC invested $7.4 billion and its annual revenues grew by 20% to $43 billion. The planned 100,000-person net growth will represent a headcount increase of more than a third.
PwC is calling its new strategy “The New Equation.” With a focus on trust-building, transparency, ESG, and delivery of sustained outcomes, PwC will change its structure to combine audit and tax reporting services into one “Trust Solutions” business, which will enable closer collaboration between the firm’s tax and audit sides. Tax consulting will join the rest of the firm, which will be titled “Consulting Solutions.”
Additionally, PwC will launch several “trust leadership” institutes with the aim of training more than 10,000 executives and board leaders in business ethics and trust-building, as well as centers of excellence on key ESG topics and an ESG academy to help employees integrate ESG into their work.