In the five-plus years since Sarbanes-Oxley was enacted, the chief compliance officer -- or someone like her -- has risen in visibility and influence. The idea of compliance for compliance's sake is giving way to compliance as competitive advantage.
A similar paradigm shift is occuring today around corporate environmental responsibility, according to AMR Research VP John Davies. As a result, a new member of the executive suite is beginning to make appearances: the chief green officer. In GreenerComputing News, Davies writes:
Organizationally, the chief green officer oversees both internal and external opportunities. This translates to having direct and indirect reports that oversee environmental health and safety, energy, procurement, and regulatory affairs. In addition to these organizations, the chief green officer in many cases is also directly or indirectly responsible for environmental stewardship, corporate communications, strategic partnerships, and product innovation.
While the span of influence for the chief green officer is broad, corporate staff is kept lean. Rather than create a green bureaucracy, this person leads by taking a program management office approach. The most important task for the chief green officer is to work with the management team to set the overall corporate strategy.
He goes on to explain that the big items on the CGO's agenda are: 1) decreasing the company's environmental footprint -- perhaps by investing in "efficiency and conservation;" 2) engaging employees, investors, suppliers and other partners in the green effort; and 3) finding new goods and services the company can offer in the green marketplace.