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What is a fractional COO and how it can be used to leverage DEI & ESG goals

An example of a professional woman of color, perhaps a fractional COO, and a female startup founder at a white board reviewing strategy.
Learn about fractional COO services that actually care about DEI & ESG. Source: Unsplash

Not every startup or business can afford a full-time chief operating officer – but that doesn't mean they can't leverage the experience of one.

But the modern small business or startup requires more than an emphasis on pure profit. Consumers are looking for businesses that display sustainability, too.

Which means that these business' operational leadership should have expertise in green business.

Sustainable, climate-conscious, and inclusive organizations require additional guidance. To succeed, green initiatives can't just be part of the marketing strategy.

A planet-positive fractional COO guides small business owners and leadership teams to achieve operational excellence — without sacrificing their values.

Before we investigate the connection between fractional leadership and going green, let's review exactly what a fractional COO is.

What is a fractional COO (and who needs one?)

A fractional chief operating officer provides part-time leadership and guidance to startups, small- and medium-sized businesses with the aim of optimizing day-to-day operations. Generally, this looks like strategic planning, project management, process optimization, digital transformation opportunities, and resourcing strategy.

Every responsibility of chief operating officers emphasizes improving business efficiency. For this reason, organizations tend to bring on a fractional COO during the early stages of development or transitional periods.

What are examples of fractional COO responsibilities?

Since COOs focus on business development at every level, they have a considerable number of responsibilities:

  • Daily operations

  • Department coordination

  • Strategy planning and reporting

  • Resources strategy

  • Product or service delivery strategy

  • Pricing

  • Forecasting

  • Project management

  • Operational technology

  • Metrics, benchmarking, and tracking KPIs

  • Operational audits

  • Team development

  • C-suite or business owner support

  • Mission alignment

How do I hire a fractional COO?

It’s fairly easy to find multiple skilled fractional COOs. The challenge is determining which professional is a right fit for your business. Defining your current objectives, goals, and budget enable you to better screen potential options.

It’s also important that your part-time COO consider the same values and have experience in your industry or business model.

For example, are you a business that wants to emphasize affording a living wage or ethical sourcing of materials? Or is your goal to reduce costs, no matter what?

And of course, Bhuva's Impact Global is uniquely positioned to help business' who value DEI and ESG and still want to achieve business growth. Learn about our

How much does a fractional COO cost?

The cost fluctuates depending on your needs and the COO’s experience. Typically, you can hire a part-time COO on an hourly basis or on a retainer. Like other highly-skilled professionals, fractional COOs typically charge at least $100-$500 per hour for consulting. The retainers can be as high as $20,000 per month.

What does a fractional COO have to do with sustainability?

Climate-conscious business owners and startup founders require more than optimization when it comes to improving their operations. They often want a COO that can understand their vision for creating a positive impact—whether that be environmental, financial, or social.

As experts in business operations, technology, and team management, a COO with experience in sustainability initiatives can help businesses navigate certifications, regulations, sourcing, and best practices relevant to their goals. Depending on their background, a COO may be able to answer questions about complex trends, such as AI ethics and central bank digital currencies.

A green COO will likely use Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives to assess your organization’s current sustainability state and offer recommendations.

Why is ESG good for business?

Integrating ESG into your day-to-day business operations offers several benefits:

  • Capture more revenue – A joint report found that two-thirds of consumers will pay a higher premium for ethical and sustainable products or services.

  • Meet customer expectations – According to one study, 88% of consumers check the sustainability of a product before buying.

  • Lower customer and employee churn – Tying your business to a common cause not only humanizes your brand but fosters brand loyalty among anyone who shares your vision. For example, 79% of employees at leading sustainability brands plan to stay in their roles for at least a few years, compared to 40% at low-sustainability organizations.

  • Long-term stability– Over 60% of business risks are caused or negatively affected by climate change alone. When we consider other governance and social factors – such as poor quality education, lack of decent employment, and discrimination – incorporating ESG-driven solutions becomes a crucial part of business continuity.

  • Attract investors – More and more individual investors and private equity firms are looking for sustainable initiatives to guide investments. In fact, 100% of private equity managers believe that sustainability is relevant when selecting an investment.

Despite the advantages of leveraging sustainability initiatives, it can take a fresh perspective to map practical objectives.

What is an ESG strategy?

An ESG strategy adjusts an organization’s infrastructure and processes to encourage sustainable growth. The goal of an ESG strategy is to minimize or eliminate a business’s negative effects on the environment or community.

A fractional COO service that includes ESG strategy planning will need to work closely with the leadership team. Ensuring all stakeholders are on board with targeted ESG objectives and how they relate to business goals is key to success. There are multiple ESG frameworks a growing business or startup can use — and an experienced part-time COO can help you maximize your impact.

How does a COO support DEI in the workplace?

A critical aspect of a sustainability initiative is improving team dynamics. And a DEI strategy offers a sound framework for creating a safe and inclusive workplace. Weaving inclusion into your business operations also crosses over with many ESG and SDG initiatives, allowing you to make a significant social impact.

If you don’t have a full-time COO, it’s unlikely that your business will have a chief diversity officer (CDO). A fractional COO with DEI experience can help jumpstart your diversity and inclusion efforts, ensuring that you have a strong foundation from the get-go. In particular, a part-time COO excels at being able to pinpoint areas where you can implement different initiatives—from diversity training to business strategy.

How can you measure diversity and inclusion?

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion appears fairly simple to measure. However, it’s important not to limit your DEI efforts to demographics or specific roles. It also helps to look at:

  • What groups you are including (and potentially excluding).

  • How minority employees and customers view your brand.

  • Whether or not the workplace is safe and accessible for all.

  • Are there mentorship and promotion opportunities in place for employees?

  • Why do diverse employees leave your organization?

Jumpstart Your Sustainable Business

It's clear that centering ESG values in your business can lead to growth. But the most efficient and cost-effective way to set up green operational processes is to work with experts in strategic planning and sustainability. A fractional COO with a passion for creating a planet-positive impact fits the bill.

Bhuva's Impact Global fractional COO services enables with your leadership to transform your business processes through eco-business advisory, ESG compliance, artificial intelligence, fundraising operations, and more.

Discover how you can ethically expand your business with our advisory services.


This blog post can also be found on Bhuva Shakti’s LinkedIn newsletter “The BIG Bulletin.” Both the BIG Bulletin on LinkedIn and the BIG Blog are managed by Bhuva’s Impact Global. We encourage readers to visit Bhuva’s LinkedIn page for more insightful articles, posts, and resources.


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