The growth of corporate sustainability (CSR) over the past decades, along with its positioning as a central element of corporate strategy, has given birth to a new category of professionals, the Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility (CR) professionals. Sustainability professionals are those within companies and organizations that spend most of their time designing and performing activities related to environmental, economic and social aspects. CSE Research from various sources* has shown that since the introduction of the term of sustainable development in the late 1980s, there has been a constant growth to the number of companies with full-time sustainability managers. Especially since 2000 the number of such companies has increased by 400%. This is evident also in the fact that more than 60% of sustainability professionals have been in the field for less than 10 years.
But which tasks are included in their job description and what makes such a role essential to a company?
The top task for sustainability and CR managers, directors and Vice Presidents is the development of the company’s sustainability strategy. Another common task at all levels is the sustainability reporting process, which allows companies to be transparent and communicate their sustainability performance and goals to all their stakeholders. Indeed, more than 50% of companies have a sustainability team or professional which is responsible for the preparation of the sustainability report. The role’s strategic goal is to minimize the company’s impact on the three pillars of sustainability and to demonstrate to the company’s stakeholders its responsible attitude. Companies that make sustainability an integral part of their core strategy, values and mission will also benefit by enhanced brand image and reputation, by increased employee and stakeholder engagement and by an increased positive impact on the environment (such as reduced CO2emissions).
Sustainability professionals in the business/industry sector have the highest salaries ($58000 on average in US). In general, this profession appears to be a very rewarding profession, not only in terms of remuneration, since more than 70% of sustainability professionals, in all sectors, are satisfied (or very satisfied) with their work.
Recent research has also shown that these professionals actively seek additional training. Indeed, in order for sustainability professionals to fulfill all the tasks of their jobs and satisfy the requirements of shareholders and investors for more information, they are in need of continuous education. This shows that they must continuously acquire specialized knowledge and be up-to-date with the best and latest practices in the field. This is also evident by the fact that more than 25% of companies claim that they need a new team with a new skill-set in order to prepare an integrated report.
Currently, the top three topics on the agenda of shareholders and investors are greenhouse gas emissions reduction and adoption of quantitative goals, efforts to reduce energy consumption and publishing a sustainability report. The fact that these issues are of vital importance to stakeholders makes the role of sustainability professionals even more important since they possess the knowledge and skills to monitor, evaluate and report the organizations’ sustainability performance.
Overall, it seems that the sustainability and CR profession is booming the last few years, with thousands of companies hiring professionals with specialized education in the field. Only in North America according to a recent CSE research more than 1000 companies are expecting to procude Sustainability Reports in 2016 and this means more specialized jobs will be created. Sustainability Professions seems to be the job of the future!
Being among the first 3 companies worldwide to provide certified educational programs and specialized advisory services for Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, the CSE recognized early the need to empower this profession and created a global new trend, contributing to the creation of thousand of new companies and CR related jobs.
CSE recently completed 10 years since it was established and continues to focus on innovation. Its next goal is to establish its Sustainability Academy as the leading source of information and affordable education on Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility issues globally.
Upcoming Certified Sustainability Practitioner Training Sessions for Sustainability Professionals:
- Houston, Texas – March 24-25, 2016
- Toronto, Ontario – April 14-15, 2016
- NYC, New York – May 23-24, 2016
- State of Green Business 2015. Joel Makower & GreenBiz.com
- The State of the Profession. Practitioner’s Survey 2015. The Environmentalist, IEMA
- CSE Research on Sustainability Reporting Trends in North America