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Location of sustainability function in a corporation?

The trend is to locate the sustainability vertical in the corporate affairs and / or communications function. While this is a good move when a company is in the process of setting up its sustainability practice and needs to communicate internally, externally and to the Board it’s ongoing efforts in seeding a social and environmental quotient, it’s detrimental in the long run to continue to preserve this location. As sustainability moves from philanthropy to a core business competency, it needs to be a seperate function with its own evangelist team and sustainable business verticals.

By Unmesh Brahme

A Yale World Fellow and Global Creative Leader, THNK School of Creative Leadership Amsterdam, Unmesh Brahme is Global Managing Director for Coach Partners & Purpose Leaders Worldwide.

His work is at the interface of business, society, international relations and governance. He provides leadership, mentoring and counsel to a portfolio of initiatives in purpose, corporate and brand citizenship, sustainability leadership, education innovation, climate change and governance, across industries and domains.

Earlier in his career, Unmesh has worked as Country Director, Room to Read India, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Ogilvy & Mather, India, Head of Sustainability for HSBC, and held advisory positions with Oxfam, World Bank, civil society organizations and foundations. Through the last two decades, he has been instrumental in strategizing sustainability efforts for marquee clients: Castrol, British Petroleum, Unilever, USAID, Johnson Controls, Walt Disney Company, United Nations Development Program, among others.

Unmesh serves on the international boards of US and South East Asia based organizations: Global Business School Network, International Society of Sustainability Professionals, SustainAsia, sphere-E and is a member of the Renewable Energy and International Law Network at Yale. He also serves on the editorial board of Anthem New Energy Finance at the Anthem Press, an independent publishing house with presence in UK, US and India. His prior board and committee positions have been with Net Impact, Sesame Workshop, CII, FICCI, among others.

Unmesh teaches at business schools globally and speaks regularly at influential forums worldwide. His engagements have been with the Forestry & Environmental Sciences School, School of Management and Law School at Yale University; Kenan Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina and Indian School of Business, among others. He is also a mentor to the Ashoka University Young India Fellowship Program.

Unmesh has contributed in a significant way to the development of corporate and brand citizenship and a number of innovative initiatives in stakeholder engagement, international relations, public diplomacy, governance, including discerning Bottom of Pyramid (BOP) work in microfinance, financial literacy, environment, sustainability, climate change adaptation and mitigation, renewable energy, community investment, supply chain, employee volunteering and social enterprises.

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