How to Write a Chief Sustainability Officer Job Description

How to Write a Chief Sustainability Job Description

How to Write a Chief Sustainability Officer Job Description

As a nonprofit organization, writing the perfect job description when looking to fill an open position can help you attract and land quality candidates, especially for leadership roles. When writing the job description for the Chief Sustainability Officer, or CSO, you want to make sure that you are attracting a candidate who has the proper experience in dealing with nonprofit organizations or has had past success with for-profit companies and has proven their success with excellent examples of sustainability strategies. In this article for Scion Nonprofit, we will explore what a CSO is, how to execute writing a stellar job description for this type of role and offer an example of a CSO job description to base your next job posting off of!

What is a Chief Sustainability Officer?

The role of a Chief Sustainability Officer, or CSO, is to help organizations ensure that their business practices are sustainable economically, environmentally, and socially. Part of their responsibilities include developing, managing, and monitoring a company or organization’s sustainability strategy while being responsible for improving their impact in the three areas listed previously. They work closely with management, employees, as well as shareholders or board members to minimize impact on the environment. This role can be both for nonprofit and for-profit companies, including large scale corporations. The CSO has become more prominent in the C-Suite at large companies that have a larger impact on resources and the environment and have had to answer questions about government policies, particularly about the environment or energy resources.

The CSO’s day-to-day role differs based on the organization at hand, but they all share a similar end goal of enacting and managing a corporate sustainability strategy.

How to write a proper job description for a Chief Sustainability Officer

Are you not sure how to write a compelling job description for your open CSO role? Follow these tips to attract top talent with your job posting!

Make the job title specific

Making sure that your job title in your posting is as specific as possible is more effective than using a generic one. Include key phrases that accurately describe the position. Job seekers are more likely to search for the job title they want, rather than looking for a job within a general department or field.

Open with a strong summary about your organization

Your job description should include a summary or overview of your organization that grabs the applicant’s attention and what your expectations are for the role. Introducing your organization and your brand is a great way to get a candidate excited to work for your organization. Talk about things like work culture, services you offer, your overall mission and why the applicant would love to be a part of your executive team. Don’t forget to mention an exact location so it appears higher in search results!

Outline the core responsibilities of the role

When detailing the core responsibilities for the CSO position, make sure you use plenty of detail, but make sure to keep it short and sweet. Talk about different environmental initiatives or the environmental impact your organization is trying to achieve. With leadership positions, it’s important to include details about day-to-day work, who is reporting to the position, and what departments this individual may be working with or managing.

Include a detailed list of soft and hard skills for the candidate

Every job description should have a list of skills or training requirements for the position. Things like education, work experience, and industry experience are all very important, but adding soft skills like communication, problem solving, and personality traits can help you widen your search for the right applicant for this leadership role. For this role, it could be beneficial to list certain sustainability practices or sustainability programs that a candidate must have certifications from in order to be considered for the job.

Include a salary range and top benefits for the position

Candidates are looking for opportunities that meet their salary desires, but most job descriptions have stopped sharing salary information altogether. Listing a salary range can leave room for negotiations with a candidate. Make sure to detail the top perks and benefits of the organization, as they can have a large impact on whether or not a candidate will even apply for a job. For nonprofits, many candidates are looking for an executive officer role aren’t too concerned with the salary, but more interested in making a real impact for their cause. Some applicants will likely have personal feelings about environmental responsibility or making an impact on climate change that the salary won’t be a deciding factor when looking at the description.

Sample Job Description for Chief Sustainability Officer

Here is our sample job description for a Chief Sustainability Officer:

[XYZ Organization] seeks a mission-driven and experienced nonprofit business leader skilled in successfully executing strategic sustainability initiatives and empowering high performing staff. Reporting to the Executive Director and Board of Directors, the Chief Sustainability Officer will be based at the organization’s offices in City, State, and have overall management responsibility for the sustainability efforts of the organization with a $XYZ million annual budget, and XYZ+ employees.


This full-time permanent position is for immediate hire and reports to a supportive and professional Executive Director. This impactful leadership position is responsible for overseeing the sustainability issues of the organization and creating sustainability reports, as well as sustainability goals that must be within our organizational standards and adhere to governmental regulations on pollution reduction or carbon emissions. This position requires a dynamic, mission-driven leader who is passionate about leading hands-on operations, fostering growth, as well as developing and managing XYZ programs.


  • Develop or execute strategies to address issues such as energy use, resource conservation, recycling, pollution reduction, waste elimination, transportation, education, and building design.
  • Supervise employees or volunteers working on sustainability projects.
  • Research environmental sustainability issues or concerns.
  • Develop methodologies to assess the viability or success of sustainability initiatives.
  • Oversee and report on the organization’s results for Board of Directors
  • Monitor and evaluate effectiveness of sustainability programs.
  • Evaluate and approve proposals for sustainability projects, considering factors such as cost effectiveness, technical feasibility, and integration with other initiatives.
  • Develop, or oversee the development of, marketing or outreach media for sustainability projects or events.
  • Develop, or oversee the development of, sustainability evaluation or monitoring systems.
  • Create and maintain sustainability program documents, such as schedules and budgets.
  • Attend all Board meetings and provide reports and updates on staff as well as all current work, project timelines, and project and organizational progress
  • Establish sustainability goals, objectives, and plans in collaboration with the Board of Directors, staff, and other leaders
  • Communicate effectively with the Board by providing members with all information necessary to continually function properly and make informed decisions in a timely and accurate manner
  • Effectively represent the organization and promote a positive organizational image to ensure adequate community representation
  • Direct sustainability program operations to ensure compliance with environmental or governmental regulations.
  • Identify educational, training, or other development opportunities for sustainability employees or volunteers.
  • Continually foster a culture that encourages collaboration between departments and recognizes positive contributions
  • Review sustainability program objectives, progress, or status to ensure compliance with policies, standards, regulations, or laws.
  • Manage and motivate staff, overseeing processes such as hiring, separation, ongoing staff development, performance management, and compensation and benefits
  • Write project proposals, grant applications, or other documents to pursue funding for environmental initiatives.
  • Perform general management duties ensuring the successful operations of the organization


The ideal candidate for this role embraces servant-leadership as well as a thoughtful approach to day-to-day operational management, strategic planning, and organizational leadership. Qualified candidate should bring:

  • At least seven years of prior sustainability related experience with a minimum of two years in a managerial capacity.
  • A proven track record of sustainability growth or impact
  • A strong passion for the mission and programs of XYZ
  • Proven abilities and experience in fiscal management and preparing and securing Board approval for a complex budget or grant application
  • Passion for making a positive impact on the environment locally and around the globe
  • Ability to review current sustainability programs/structures and make recommendations that empower programmatic refinements
  • Capacity to excel at influencing and leading an organization towards positive growth
  • Capable of designing and directing strategies that enhance and support organizational operations
  • Knowledge of how to foster an environment of accountability, healthy work relationships and partnerships, and inclusivity among organizational staff in order to maintain a positive and collaborative work environment
  • Experience in creating and establishing clear, measurable sustainability goals
  • Outstanding communication skills and ability to work well with media, staff, and the community


This wonderful opportunity offers the ability to make significant impact leading and growing an impactful nonprofit leading XYZ. This career opportunity offers a strong starting base salary, a full benefits package, and a team-oriented atmosphere that is both positive and rewarding. Starting compensation includes: a very competitive salary dependent on experience of XZY to ZYX, plus full benefits package that includes [list out as many positive aspects of your package as possible. include your flexible work policy, paid parental leave, inclusive health insurance benefits (trans-inclusive doctors and transition related care; benefits that cover domestic partners, etc.), floating holidays, mental health benefits, and more.].

Consider indicating a salary range: In 2021, women earned 82 cents for every dollar men earned in the workplace. Asian women are earning 85 cents, Black women are earning 63 cents, Native American women are earning 60 cents, and Latina women are earning 55 cents for every dollar earned by their White, male counterparts. Those are some dismal gaps. Including a salary range in the job description builds trust for prospective talent early on. It lets female and underrepresented prospects know that you’re committed to equity and fair pay. After all, the salary you disclose will be the salary regardless of the candidate’s gender, race, or other demographic characteristics.


For immediate consideration please send your resume, cover letter, and salary requirements in a WORD.docx format to First Last via email to Attn: First Last, Title using the subject title: “XZY ORG CSO SEARCH.”

Review of applications, nominations, and expressions of interest will begin immediately and continue on a confidential basis until an appointment is made.

XZY is an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages diversity and equity in all facets of the organization’s work. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other protected class.

Scion Nonprofit Executive Search can help you find your next Chief Sustainability Officer

Are you trying to fill an executive position at your nonprofit organization? We can help. Scion Nonprofit specializes in placing experienced, mission-driven nonprofit staff members from the entry-level to the executive level. Learn more about our nonprofit executive search firm services and how we can help you find the best candidates.