The emergence of social leaders The transformation of the C-suite roles
By Sofía Cácerez Valenzuela
We live in a dynamic world, in a ever-evolving society. And it was during the pandemic that, as humanity, we realized things can change faster than we think. The urgency to reactivate the economy while preserving health accelerated digital transformation on a global scale level. The McKinsey & Company study, Time required to respond to or implement changes, pre-COVID-19 estimate vs actual, discusses how phenomena that were supposed to happen in a 3-year timespan, happened in less than 3 weeks.
In a matter of months, the pandemic marked a milestone for society. In very little time, this represented a new beginning for collective interests, concerns, values, and motivations. In consequence, companies felt obliged to quickly adapt, so as to continue being relevant for a completely transformed consumer.
For this adaptation process to be possible, the companies had to understand the importance of the evolution of the the C-suite roles in their organizations. This concept originates from C-level in Spanish. The letter C comes from the word Chief in English, which makes reference to the people high-ranked within the company’s structural hierarchy (Añez, 2022). This role is occupied by people skilled at negotiation, assertivity in decision-making, strategic thought, team leadership capacity. They are managers and change facilitators, this is the reason why the companies started to understand they are the first ones that must adapt to the new needs of society.
We are faced, more than ever, with consumers concerned about the environment, the common good, and their health. According to Euromonitor´s report 2022’s Consumption Tendencies, the low-carbon life styles are here to stay. Consumers expect brands will take action to fight the climate emergency. Besides, there is a renewal of life tendency, more than ever, passion and purpose motivate action. This is the reason why companies must innovate in goods, services, and experiences that answer to a generation that prioritizes their own personal growth.
Though CFOs, COOs or CIOs profiles continue to be relevant, new necessities give way to the creation of more diverse C-suite teams, and with new competencies. All industries have deemed necessary to create new C-level positions, and the fashion industry is no exception. From Metaverse Directors to Happiness Directors, small and big brands are making space for this new wave of leaders that will promote diversity, sustainability, and innovation.
It is the fashion industry the one that more strongly promotes their sustainability credentials, however, the carbon footprint continues increasing as a consequence of this complex system. For this reason, the companies that belong to this industry must understand what a big challenge it is to find and hire leaders that not only do for the sake of it, when sustainability matters. These new C-suite roles must stop concealing this issue and comprehend that less sustainable is not sustainable.
Fashion mirrors and leads culture, that is why the industry has the unique opportunity to rewrite the rules, to redefine progress and show that respect for boundaries can lead to an authentic sustainability. It is the companies’ responsibility to transform from the top, to understand the great impact their leaders have within the organization. On the other hand, it is the academy the one that must encourage the planet be on top of the agenda, as well as the generation of C-suites more concerned about the environment, diversity, society, and innovation. The myth of sustainable fashion can stop being a myth, and it is the emergence of these new leaders what will cause a real and authentic change.
Bbva (2020) Identidad digital, machine learning y criptografía avanzada: los ambios tecnológicos de la era post COVID-19. Recuperado de: https://www.bbva.com/es/identidad-digital-machine-learning-y-criptografia-avanzada-los-cambios-tecnologicos-de-la-era-post-covid-19/
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Euromonitor (2022). Las 10 principales tendencias globales de consumo para 2022. Recuperado de: https://go.euromonitor.com/white-paper-EC-2022-Top-10-Global-Consumer-Trends-SP.html
K, Pucker (2022). El mito de la moda sostenbile Recuperado de: https://hbr.org/2022/01/the-myth-of-sustainable-fashion?language=es