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How CSOs Can Get the Support They Need From CMOs

How CSOs Can Get the Support They Need From CMOs

By Caroline Klatt, COO, Flowcarbon
January 2, 2024

Navigating the dynamic landscape of their ever-evolving roles, chief sustainability officers find themselves at a critical juncture where effective communication of their work has become both paramount and risky, fueled by apprehensions surrounding greenwashing and the repercussions of socially conscious investing. Equally risky is the potential fallout from neglecting the concerns voiced by employees, consumers, and other stakeholders. 

That’s where a close relationship with your chief marketing officer is key.

This article, the third installment in my series on collaborative sustainability efforts within the c-suite, delves into the symbiotic relationship between CSOs and CMOs. It sheds light on the imperative need for understanding the priorities and challenges faced by CMOs, unveiling a strategic approach that reframes sustainability not merely as a cost or constraint but as a compelling opportunity for brands to amplify reach and catalyze meaningful impact.

Make the Case for Your CMO

Here are three sustainability concerns topping your CMO’s to-worry-about list right now.

1. Sell like you mean it — because you do. The ongoing shift towards conscious consumerism continues, with more than half of American adults expressing a desire to support companies that prioritize doing good. Sustainability is gaining prominence in the marketing industry too: The prestigious Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has not only added an awards category that honors campaigns that enhance sustainability, but now asks entrants in all awards categories to outline the CO2 emissions related to the work submitted. 

  • Opportunity Decarbonize with your CMO. From vendor selection to utilizing tools like virtual production, myriad aspects of marketing intersect with sustainability. Work together to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Opportunity Ensure your messaging is human-centric. Beyond showcasing what your business does, focus on communicating how it contributes to delivering better products and services for people and the planet.

2. Get the data you need to make the claims that matter. An imbalance between marketing and sustainability can lead to greenwashing — when a company’s sustainability claim can’t be backed up legitimately — or its lesser-known counterpart, greenhushing — when a company chooses not to publicly discuss its sustainability goals or progress. A 2022 Google Cloud/Harris Poll global survey of more than 1,400 executives revealed a significant gap between perceived progress on climate-related goals and accurate measurement. 

  • Opportunity Only 36% of respondents report having measurement tools in place to quantify sustainability efforts reliably. Help your CMO connect sustainability to your company’s human centric mission.  
  • Opportunity Address the elephant in the room: 58% admit to overstating sustainability efforts. Transparent collaboration with your marketing team not only saves time but safeguards your brand's integrity as well.

3. Future-proof your company. A new global brand perception survey from FutureBrand says brands that don’t become “beacons of progressive responsibility and purpose-based action” will be left behind. By working together, CMOs and CSOs can ensure a holistic approach that embraces sustainability across the board while ensuring customer and brand equity growth. 

  • Opportunity: Explore innovative realms that harmonize sustainability and marketing objectives. How can you help your CMO connect with key stakeholders — such as employees, investors and customers — to seize emerging opportunities to drive impactful change?
  • Opportunity: Delve into untapped territories where sustainability and marketing intersect. Uncover new avenues for collaboration that redefine the narrative and reinforce the symbiotic relationship between CSOs and CMOs.

Incorporating sustainability into marketing efforts is not just good for the planet. It's a strategic way to build a powerful brand. By working together, CSOs and CMOs can not only share the future, they can build it too. Allow your CMO collaboration to stand as a testament to the transformative power of aligning purpose with strategy, ensuring a resilient and impactful journey toward a sustainable future.

Learn more about how Flowcarbon can help your company’s holistic carbon emissions strategy at

For more in the series, read: “How CSOs Can Get the Support They Need From CHROs” here.


About Flowcarbon

Flowcarbon is a pioneering carbon finance and technology company working to scale the voluntary carbon market through innovative investment and carbon finance structures and sales.

Caroline Klatt is COO of Flowcarbon, which she co-founded in 2021.

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