Corporate Sustainability Specialists Are in Demand

Sustainability Professionals
April 11, 2019

Have you thought about hiring a specialist just to look after your company’s sustainability potential?

Increasingly, companies have and found that the effort has paid off.

Especially as there are tangible incentives. One example: banks lowering interest rates for loans for companies who can show themselves to be more sustainable.

In the GreenBiz 2019 State of Green Business Report, which looks at key trends, the number one trend identified is the greater demand for corporate sustainability professionals.

More businesses are identifying either a person or a team to oversee and harvest opportunities for corporate sustainability. This includes all areas of a company, including MarComm, the supply chain, facilities management, corporate social responsibility (CSR), as well as environment, health and safety (EHS) departments.

This position cannot be filled by just anyone, as a generalist may not be qualified for the job. According to GreenBiz, the position is increasingly requiring “education and experience in everything from materials science and product design to purchasing and procurement, finance, accounting and more.”

AT&T’s Director of Sustainability Operations John Schulz told GreenBiz, “We’re covering more bases now in sustainability because we’ve realized that the scope of sustainability is bigger than just environmental.” He adds, “It’s got social elements, it’s got customer and employee engagement elements, and more.”

According to Cargill’s Global Sustainability Leader Jill Kolling, the specialization of sustainability roles and functions has risen in two main areas. First, there is the need to look at corporate policies and strategies regarding climate change, water, or human rights. “Then there is another type of expertise more specific to a particular supply chain or product set,” Kolling is quoted in the GreenBiz report. “For example, in operations we work to make our plants and manufacturing facilities more efficient and use fewer natural resources,” Kolling says.

Another development pushing specialization, is an increase in the specificity of company goal-setting. Large, global corporations are being asked by CDP to measure and report carbon emissions along with supply chain, water and forest impacts.

This sustainability emphasis is strongly supported by stakeholders as well. Today’s more socially-minded shareholders want to see their investments have a longer term social and environmental benefit as opposed to just a quick profit.

In his annual letter to CEOs, Larry Fink, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Black Rock Investment, writes: “Stakeholders are pushing companies to wade into sensitive social and political issues – especially as they see governments failing to do so effectively.”

Focusing on the specifics of corporate sustainability is one way to do just that.

So when it comes hiring time again, don’t overlook that sustainability specialist.

After you bring on board sustainability specialists, be sure to equip them with the right software tools so they’re successful. This will also help your company achieve its sustainability objectives.

Software solutions from Enablon can help you measure and report on various metrics like water and energy consumption, carbon emissions, waste generated and sent to landfill, and more.



Laurie Toupin