Burger King CFO: How to bring the c-suite into sustainability


Tim Doubleday is group CFO at Burger King. He is also chair of the environment leadership team at Business in the Community – and gave a snapshot of how to engage the c-suite in sustainability at the May Hospitality Carbon Reduction Forum.

Doubleday outlined the simultaneous snowballing of environmental regulation and taxes and growing public concern around climate issues.

That has created a climate of fear and risk for businesses, said Doubleday, which feeds through to the CFO as “if you do not respond, your regulatory and tax burden will increase and your customers will go elsewhere”.

Doubleday: Present opportunity, not risk

Present opportunity

It is time to change the message, said Doubleday. “Don’t talk about risk, talk about opportunity. If you present opportunity to your CEO or chief marketing officer, they will be onboard straightaway. So change the agenda.”

He pointed to the $12tn opportunity identified by United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals; hundreds of thousands of UK jobs – and the trillions of pounds in green funds looking for good, sustainable receptacles.

Doubleday suggested talking to CFOs about the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI), which require investors to ensure that the companies in which they invest make continuous, demonstrable sustainability improvements.

This forces both public and private equity investors to push the sustainability agenda, said Doubleday.

Meanwhile the environmental agenda is working its way into the home, and into the mindset of the next generation of employees and customers.

“So if you have the investors pushing from behind and your customers and employees pulling from the front, then from a business perspective, the c-suite has to take notice,” said Doubleday.

His takeouts were:

  • Present opportunity, not threat
  • Benchmark where your business stands among peers
  • Map a journey of changes you can make that are materially relevant to your business
  • Collaborate with other businesses to drive step change

Doubleday also advised appealing to leaders from a personal perspective.

“As you get older in business, you don’t remember the numbers. What you remember is the experiences you had, the good things that you did, and the legacy you created. That is a powerful message to take to the c-suite.”

Business in the Community represents about 750 members, including more than half the FTSE100, SMEs and academia. See bitc.org.uk

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  1. I like the article you have written except I believe the C-suite will always prioritise profits over principles. The challenge therein is that you need to get the CFO on board and to do that you will need to shown financial benefit.


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