EVENTS & INSIGHTS / INSIGHT

Sustainability career changers have job opportunities as CEOs catch on

by Shannon Houde

Great news, jobseekers! Sustainability is becoming more firmly embedded into the corporate agenda, according to a recent report by Verdantix.

250 sustainability decision-makers at firms across 21 sectors and 13 countries were interviewed to gain insights into how a CEO’s perspective of sustainability manifested in organisational structure.

The more sustainability is embedded into the corporate agenda, the easier it will be to make a career shift from traditional business functions like marketing, finance, legal, operations into more sustainability-focused roles.  Core business functions will become responsible for sustainability targets and therefore it will become part of your day job, thereby helping you shift into the sector in your next career move.

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If you are a finance manager and are passionate about “making a positive difference to the environment” you may find that you can transition your skills in data analysis, reporting and measurement to help measure and report the company’s energy usage.   If you are a marketing guru, you may find ways to spin that into internal and external stakeholder communications or social/cause related marketing.  An operations expert may link up with procurement or supply chain to improve human rights for suppliers.  But you need to increase understanding and buy-in from the top – the CEO.

What the Verdantix report found was very revealing, shedding light on the state and nature of sustainability’s integration into corporate affairs.  According to the researchers, “there is a stark difference in the governance of sustainability between firms where the CEO is still grappling with the concept and firms where the CEO is better informed”.

Here are some of the key points:

  • Over a third of those interviewed say that their CEOs take a long-term view of sustainability
  • 12% say it’s a new concept for their CEOs
  • 21% of CEOs believe sustainability impacts quarterly performance
  • 95% of companies have a sustainability programme management office at headquarter level
  • Of these sustainability departments, 46% have more than 5 employees, 49% have less than 5
  • Almost half of CFOs see sustainability as a key driver of financial performance

This report confirms my belief that sustainability is continuing to gain momentum as a strategic opportunity, however, we still have a long way to go to make it truly embedded in the majority of businesses globally.  1/3 of CEOs taking a long-term view of sustainability is just not enough!

While many firms see the issue as fundamental to the long-term competitive advantage of their business, even more are still grappling with the challenge of understanding the risks and opportunities of creating shared value, much less applying it to their organisational strategies and achieving/measuring compelling impacts.

For my clients and sustainability job seekers or career changers, this study encourages us all to push the envelope in our current roles and find ways to help create the business case, gain buy-in at senior level and integrate sustainability into our own day jobs.

Let me know how you can challenge your company in this way.

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