How Much Of Sustainability There Is On The Top Management Team? Evidence Of The Energy Sector


C – SDGs and Business


1 - Nayele Macini
2 - Ana Claudia Bansi
University of Sao Paulo -
3 - Marlon Fernandes Rodrigues Alves
University of Sao Paulo - School of Economics, Business Administration and Accounting at Ribeirao Preto
4 - Fernando César Almada Santos
University of Sao Paulo - Sao Carlos School of Engineering


The aim of this study was to analyze the jobs related to sustainability in the Top Management Team (TMT) of the companies in the energy sector. This theme was chosen because there is an increased pressure by the stakeholders for the companies to have an ethical attitude to environmental and social issues. Furthermore, this pressure is very evident in the energy sector, which is a high socio-environmental risk sector. However, according to Claro, Claro and Amâncio (2008), until today the organizations find difficult to associate their speeches and their management practices in the light of sustainability. So if an organization wants to be sustainable in the long term, it will need to invest in all areas of your business, and make sure that there are aligned with the guidelines of sustainability, and people management as a key focus for the implementation of these changes. Manage organizations in relation to their human-social, natural and economic resources, involving organizational sustainability to people management area is a major challenge (Ehnert & Harry, 2012). Jabbour and Santos (2008) state that is necessary a pattern of development that also favors the social, economic and environmental aspects, and organizations are responsible for initiating the changes. They also state that the concepts related to sustainable development are large, and at the same time little explored in practical question to help organizations become sustainable. Sustainability requires a new way of acting of organizations, not being voluntarily isolated practices or just responses to the needs of stakeholders (Valente, 2012). To Kramar (2014) sustainable organization must have a flexible structure with management practices of people who build the workforce capabilities, provides participatory decision making, empowerment, diversity management, high levels of health in the workplace and security and performance indicators that reflect ethical concerns and the principles of sustainability. In literature and in practice, there is still a gap between the concept of organizational sustainability and the strategies adopted for it to be implemented on day-to-day operations, especially taking into account the systemic view of the business (Cheng, Fet & Holmen, 2010). Thus, questions were raised concerning how much organizations were actually investing in sustainable practices, creating jobs or specific areas to leave executives responsible for designing and implementing sustainable strategies in them. So, we conducted a case study in the Companhia Paulista de Força e Luz (CPFL), an important company in the energy Brazilian sector, with a good reputation and actions in sustainability. We intend to check if being in the management area of sustainability, can be the result of aspirations and future aspirations that the board members have, which according to Carpenter et al. (2004) influence the decisions that the upper echelons take. These characteristics are powerful influences in action and decision, which goes beyond the rational decision. This study chose the energy sector because of its challenge: providing energy aiming to satisfy the needs of a population increasingly populous, without impacting the environment. This challenge translates into satisfying a growing demand for alternative energy sources while at the same time promotes energy efficiency (Kessides & Wade, 2011). Therefore, understanding the upper echelons characteristics and how it can influence the search for sustainable actions is a topic of interest today. Some points can be highlighted. First, we found that few companies have sustainability jobs in TMT: from the 107 world’s largest energy companies, only 27 were selected to the analysis of executives. Second, we observed that these jobs seem to be more focused on technical issues and the minority reports directly to the CEO. Regarding the case study, it was noticeable how their personal characteristics influenced the role-play as TMT in the area of sustainability. These characteristics are powerful influences in action and decision, which goes beyond the rational decision. We also pointed out important considerations and future topics of research.