The Global Association of Corporate Sustainability Officers (GACSO) joined IEMA in April 2014. Notable initiatives progressed, with GACSO and IEMA members collaborating to deliver a 2014 White Paper on defining sustainability, scoping sessions on ‘professionalising corporate sustainability’, events on leading sustainability topics and developments, national conferences, on-line roundtables as well as individual and group mentoring sessions. GACSO members have been instrumental in contributing to IEMA’s development as a professional body for sustainability as well as environmental professionals – for example supporting the landmark IEMA publication - Beyond the Perfect Storm.

GACSO is now an IEMA network of around 200 Corporate Sustainability professionals. This page summarises some of its earlier outputs with links to key documents and information

Introduction to GACSO (from former GACSO website)

As a senior sustainability professional, you’ve played a major role in pioneering the profession. You’ve needed to walk a fine line and strike a balance, being true to both the short and long-term commercial aspirations of your company whilst responding to the complexities of sustainable development (SD) and the big planet agendas, confused furthermore perhaps by a local issue.

GACSO was a membership organisation of corporate sustainability professionals from leading UK and international organisations that explored these questions, capturing the learnings to professionalise the CSO role and define career- and development-paths for those already in such positions and those considering entering. Read more here

GACSO's Principles and Purpose

Read a description of GACSO’s principles and purpose here

Further Reading

GACSO worked with recruitment agencies and knowledge sharing partners. This page outlines some key reports developed and promoted by GACSO

GACSO and Sustainable Development

Earlier work by GACSO and understanding of Sustainable Development (work further extended in GACSO 2014 White Paper and in IEMA 2016 publication Beyond the Perfect Storm).

GACSO Initiatives

GACSO worked to pioneer the professional development of Corporate Sustainability. The following page from the former GACSO website outlines its role as an organisation that engaged Corporate Sustainability Professionals. Click here to see work undertaken by GACSO in 2011 on defining and understanding the corporate sustainability professional.

Defining Corporate Sustainability: A GACSO and IEMA White Paper

“An engagement process to build understanding around corporate sustainability is an excellent initiative for GACSO and IEMA. I would encourage anyone interested in corporate sustainability from Chief Sustainability Officers to HR professionals to read this White Paper and to contribute their thoughts. The sustainability landscape needs focus and agreement – GACSO and IEMA are now well placed to catalyse this debate to provide clarity around the role sustainability professionals play in supporting long term business success.

Francis Sullivan, GACSO founding member and HSBC Deputy Head of Global Corporate Sustainability

Download the paper here

GACSO Events

A number of events were organised by GACSO on critical challenges and developments – topics included Sustainable Finance, Carbon Accounting (Scope 2), Conflict Minerals and Human Rights and events since 2012 can be viewed here.

Partners and Documents

GACSO worked with recruitment agencies and knowledge sharing partners. Read below some key reports developed and promoted by GACSO.

Defining the Corporate Sustainability Professional

This document produced by GACSO's Founding Members is the first publication from our initiative to establish a consensus on the role of the sustainable development professional.

Further work will incorporate contributions from other professionals including HR, Recruitment, Boards of Directors, that will add new dimensions and perspectives to this definition.

ENDS Special Report: Organising for Sustainability

ENDS has published unique insights into how business organises itself for greater sustainability.

Based on a survey of UK companies, Organising for Sustainability reveals two main alternative structures, which it calls the ‘compliance’ and ‘sustainability’ archetypes.The report shows how organisations are increasingly developing their approach to sustainability, but also some of the pitfalls that are preventing progress. One of the most important is a lack of support for sustainability departments from other central departments, especially finance, R&D, business management and sales and marketing.

ENDS believes this is holding back corporate sustainability efforts in general and the integration of sustainability into core business strategy in particular. On the other hand, the report reveals which other departments work most closely with sustainability teams: the top three are facilities, supply chain and HR.

The report finds that larger companies tend to have sustainability teams of about five staff, but that any organisation wanting to be a sustainability leader might need to consider at least doubling this number. There appears to be no clear relationship between where sustainability teams sit in organisations and level of commitment to sustainability aims. UK companies take a wide variety of approaches, from having a separate sustainability department or placing it within other departments ranging from marketing to HR.

The Sustainable Generation: The Sky Future Leaders Study

Tomorrow’s business leaders bring personal beliefs and experience to the workplace.

Businesses trying to be sustainable but must match words with actions.

Future leaders confident in their ability to operate sustainably.

As businesses continue to feel the pinch from tough economic conditions, the next generation of business leaders says in a new study that sustainability must be a priority for all businesses and sets out its plans for a more sustainable future.

‘The Sustainable Generation: The Sky Future Leaders Study’ examines for the first time the attitudes and ambitions towards sustainability of 750 corporate graduate trainees, high potential middle-managers and MBA students. It uncovers a group who readily describe themselves as the first ‘sustainable generation’ and who have a clear vision for their own careers. But it also sends a warning that UK businesses aren’t matching their warm words with concrete actions.

CSO Back Story

This extensive report underlines the emergence of a new executive role in corporate America’s C-suites that is powerful in scope, strategic oversight, and overall management. Featuring companies like UPS, EMC, DuPont, AT&T, SAP, Kellogg, PG&E and Coca-Cola, CSO Back Story offers organisations a real framework on how to leverage a growing consciousness on sustainability for business growth.

When it comes to sustainability and organisational success, there is a ton of media chatter, but not a lot of hard data to support why companies should invest in a sustainability strategy. Now CSO Back Story promises to fill this gap by offering cutting-edge research in this thorough report on chief sustainability officers and their role to support the bottom-line.

The report, published by executive search and consulting firm Weinreb Group, builds on CEO Ellen Weinreb’s belief that sustainability is part of everyone’s job.