Should the C-Suite Have a “Green” Seat?

2359 WordsJul 24, 201410 Pages HBR CASE STUDY Should Narinex hire a CSO? Should the C-Suite Have a “Green” Seat? by Eric J. McNulty and Rupert Davis • Reprint R1012X Purchased by robert duboff ( on January 12, 2012 Bent on improving its ecocredentials, a company debates the need for a chief sustainability officer. HBR CASE STUDY Should the C-Suite Have a “Green” Seat? COPYRIGHT © 2010 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. by Eric J. McNulty and Rupert Davis Jennifer Brown, CEO of Narinex, an electronic components manufacturer based in Michigan, re-read the news alert on her screen. The company had lost another major contract to Glistrom, a UK-based…show more content…
She examined the summary of sustainability initiatives the company had already pursued: installing a green roof on its German plant to cut energy costs, reducing packaging by a third, shifting the bulk of its international shipping to a vendor with the most fuel-efficient air fleet, and, yes, moving all documentation online. She noted that some efforts had yielded remarkably fast and solid paybacks; others would take years to confirm a certain ROI. “We are in compliance with our manufacturing, but that target moves depending on the country of manufacture and receipt,” the memo stated. “Where regulations are looser and customer specifications permit, we produce goods with lower-cost substances that would not be acceptable in all regions.” Putting down the memo, Brown turned to a report on Narinex’s environmental practices. It had been prepared by none other than her 17year-old granddaughter as a school assignment. Zoe had e-mailed it to her a few days earlier with a short note: Thanks for your help getting information for this, Nana. You should read it. You weren’t the worst company we talked about, but you weren’t the best either! XOXO. The teenager’s analysis was refreshingly direct—free of corporate politics and personal ambition. Zoe’s top recommendation: Hire a CSO. “From the mouths of babes,” Brown mused. She knew several other companies had appointed CSOs. She’d generally

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