According to Inc, while the CIO position was mostly unknown for companies in the past years, it started to build a stronger reputation when Prince Harry was hired by BetterUp as a chief impact officer.
Axios said that "businesses are under more pressure to save society" today, as more people trust companies, rather than NGOs or governments.
Tom Dawkins, co-founder at StartSomeGood, said that "impact needs to be a lens, not a category."
The responsibility of CIOs are not yet fully established, as the position is still quite new, but there are some that could be more obvious, one of them being corporate social responsibility.
Here, both ESG and CSR efforts can be included as the responsibility of the CIO, and he/she will have to make sure that these elements are well integrated with the company's strategy. He/she will also need to make sure that all leaders of the company know about the ESG and CSR elements when developing strategies regarding branding or finances.
Solving potential ethics conflicts can also be considered as the activity of the CIO, since most companies don't have an established mechanism that can balance things like a financial opportunity that also happens to have a big environmental impact.
The chief financial officer (CFO) has the ability to determine the financial benefits and balance that part of the effort, but the CIO should be the one that can evaluate the impact side of things.
While this doesn't automatically mean that all decisions will be taken based on impact, it should mean that impact will be taken more seriously in decision-taking discussions.
Establishing values and spreading the purpose can also be considered very important elements of a business that the CIO can take care of.
Matthew McCarthy, CEO at Ben and Jerry's, said that companies must have and articulate their values. In his view, it can be anything, "but what it can't be is nothing."
Researchers were able to determine that, following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, many companies published statements on social media very quickly, but after one year, there was no correlation between "talking about racial diversity in proxy statements and actual racial diversity" in the boardroom.
The role of the CIO in this direction is to make sure that the words are followed by action in the company. He/she will then spread the word about the purpose and the values of the company throughout the employees, ensuring that they all become part of the mission.
These are just a few of the elements that the CIO can take care of in order to improve the impact of the company, whether social or environmental.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that companies need to take this position more seriously if they want their mission, goals, statements and actions to work together in order to bring them success and to allow them to have the social and environmental impact that they desire.