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Chief Impact Officer: Understanding Their Responsibilities and Contributions

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By Estela Viñarás, on 8 May 2024

A Chief Impact Officer is responsible for leading the environmental and social impact strategy of a company or organization. Their aim is to ensure that the goals of social responsibility and sustainability are met.

The projects that a Chief Impact Officer can lead include volunteering programs, donations to charitable organizations, carbon footprint reduction programs, and waste management programs, among others. However, these social objectives should not only be focused externally; the CIO must also lead strategies to improve the quality of life of the teams, creating and leading corporate well-being strategies such as health programs, inclusion programs, work-life balance, etc.

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Chief Impact Officer

The role of the CIO has not yet spread to many corporations. However, it is more common in the world of NGOs and nonprofit organizations.

What Are the Functions of the CIO?

Let's take a closer look at what a Chief Impact Officer does.

  • Define (together with the company's management team) the social or environmental impact strategy that the organization will pursue and subsequently lead it.
  • Ensure that the chosen social and environmental strategy aligns with the culture and objectives of the company and does not contradict corporate work and different work teams.
  • Measure and analyze if the set social and environmental objectives are being met and if they have managed to improve some of the organization's KPIs.
  • The CIO is also responsible for leading the communication of the results both internally and externally.

What Skills Should a CIO Have?

  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Ability to create consensus among different people and reach agreements.
  • Strong leadership and project management skills.
  • Data analysis skills.
  • Great ability to work in teams and delegate tasks.

Real Examples of Celebrities Holding a CIO Position

For now, most examples of CIO profiles are seen in corporations in the United States and Canada. Among them, some companies have opted to give this position to public figures, as is the case, for example, with Simone Biles. The Olympic gymnast was chosen by the company Cerebral, and the Duke of Sussex by BetterUp.

For other corporate positions, it would be unthinkable to choose public figures, but in the case of the CIO, it's different because it has a clear social focus and is also related to marketing. For the impact strategy to work, it's important that people are interested in and know about the cause. To achieve that, having a famous person increases the chances of success.

Chief Impact Officer vs. Chief Information Officer: What's the Difference?

It is very common for both positions to be confused due to the similarity of their names, but the reality is that they are very different.

A Chief Information Officer is the person responsible for everything related to the information technologies of a company. Their function is to devise, implement, and supervise the IT strategy of an organization and ensure that it aligns with the company's objectives. Additionally, they are also responsible for managing IT resources and ensuring the security of the organization's information.

While the Chief Impact Officer is necessary for the company to be accepted by consumers and to ensure its social success, the Chief Information Officer is essential for an organization to be successful in the digital world.

Chief Impact Officer: The Future Position in Companies?

The CIO position has not yet been implemented in most corporations. But it is expected to change soon.

Today, there's a growing expectation for companies to prioritize societal and environmental welfare alongside profit-making. Products associated with social or environmental causes have seen an increase in growth compared to those that lack such associations.

But it is not only consumers who are responsible for corporations becoming more willing to take on social and environmental projects. The company's own professionals, especially Gen Z, want to work for companies they share values with and that care about the world around them. Many workers actually leave companies or don't accept jobs that don't make them feel they have a purpose beyond making money.

For these reasons, although the role of the CIO is not yet widespread, it is expected to grow in the near future, especially when designing a corporate strategy.

As societal and employee pressure on companies mounts to adopt a more socially and environmentally conscious approach, corporations are recognizing the necessity of the Chief Impact Officer (CIO) role.People-Led Marketing

Estela Viñarás