From Roy Snell
You may or may not be involved in the hiring of your organization’s 1st ESG Officer, but you will probably be involved in the hiring of their replacement shortly thereafter. The number of qualified people mature enough to run an ESG Program is limited. There are many people claiming to have some “ESG experience” who think the job entails running up and down the halls of your organization telling everyone that leadership is bad.
ESG is a collection of evolving Environmental Social and Governance laws, regulations, principled behaviors and more that create risk for you, however the risk of hiring the wrong person is possibly higher. The ESG profession is very young, therefore the pool of people with the requisite experience and qualifications to run your high risk ESG program… is limited. As Coke and Home Depot recently found out, your ESG officer can bring on significant bad press even if your organization has broken no law. Not only is there no standard ESG Officer job description approved by any credible organization, there is no credible ESG organization working on this.
The world is screaming for us to do something now, this is an important hire and you don’t even have a job description that you can verify is accurate. The knowledgeable ESG professionals are being drowned out by loud and dangerous ESG pundits. Some of these pundits have no business or economic skills and would have you bankrupt your organization to support their personal causes. There is no professional association or professional certification for ESG Officers. The ESG profession is high risk, high level and leaderless. Consultants, lawyers, accountants, etc. have little experience and tremendous confidence. I would listen to the accountants who are less biased and use proven systems to help define/audit new business processes.
Those of us waiting for a consensus about the role of the ESG officer and the function of an ESG Program… could be waiting a while. If the two professional associations I was involved in starting and running for 20 years are any indication… it could be several years before there will be meaningful progress on the definition of an ESG Officer or ESG Program. I would spend as much time and effort on this hire as you do any other. You will not need to spend much time after that if you get the right person. However, if you hire the wrong person you may end up spending a year undoing the problems the wrong person created. If ever there was a time to promote a known and trusted colleague from within your organization, this is it.