Top 6 Careers in Sustainability
The need for a more sustainable world is growing. As such, the need for professionals who specialise in sustainability is equally becoming more important.
This is evident by:
- The amount of green jobs that are becoming available and more mainstream,
- The fact that sustainability is now an important component of corporate focus and culture across various different business fields,
- The multitude of sustainability-related programmes and coursesbeing increasingly offered by universities and graduate schools.
According to an article published by Corporate Knights, “growth in ‘green’ careers is outpacing the rest of the job market. With so many options now available, the challenge is in choosing.”
What kinds of careers are available in sustainability?
Recently, National Geographic rated the top 11 fastest growing green jobs:
- Urban growers
- Water quality technicians
- Clean car engineers
- Natural scientists
- Green builders
- Solar cell technicians
- Green Design Professionals
- Wave energy producers
- Wind energy worker
- Biofuel jobs
These kinds of careers, alongside those such as sustainability consultant, conservationist or ecologist, are all very relevant professions at the heart of the sustainability industry. But as the need for sustainability is growing, different kinds of job types in other industries are morphing to include a specialisation in sustainability.
A study conducted by Mckinsey&Company in 2017 showcases how the various core job functions within companies are now including sustainability in order to have a positive environmental and financial impact.
We have highlighted six of the many examples of careers in sustainability that do not fall within the sustainability industry itself:
Chief Sustainability Officer
Chief Sustainability Officers act as a company’s advocate for all environmental matters. They will often need to work with all departments in a company to ensure measurable improvements in sustainability.
According to Harvard Business School associate professor George Serafeim, who wrote a paper on what CSO’s are and what they do, “the appointment of the CSO reflects the underlying need for companies to not only monitor but also improve their performance.”
Sustainable Procurement Manager
Sustainable Procurement Managers integrate environmental and social considerations in to all stages of the supply chain process.
A recent study by the UN global Compact and EY on the current state of sustainable supply chains globally, showed that “by improving environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance throughout their supply chains, companies can enhance processes save costs, increase labor productivity, uncover product innovation, achieve market differentiation and have a significant impact on society.”
That is why more and more corporates are placing a focus on improving supply chain sustainability and hiring procurement managers who specialise in this.
According to environmentalscience.org, “an environmental lawyer works to represent clients in legal issues such as in clean technology, water law, climate change law and the management of land subject to native title and other public land.”
With the climate and water crises becoming more pressing, land reform being required in many parts of the world and businesses investing in clean technology, the demand for environmental lawyers in the future is only set to grow.
Financial Advisor for Responsible Investment
Responsible investment generally means the consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues when making investment decisions.
For a long time, investments have been tied up in companies in the fossil fuel industry or companies who are involved in socially and environmentally questionable activities such as deforestation, animal testing and slave/child labour.
Investors are increasingly wanting their assets to be invested in a way that has a positive impact on the environment and does not contribute to social inequalities. This is making room for more environmentally and socially conscious financial advisors who have the know-how on how to invest sustainably whilst safeguarding long-term capital growth.
Sustainability Communications Expert
According to an article on Sustainable Brands, “In addition to acting responsibly, companies are now expected to effectively communicate” about sustainability too. This has created the rise for a unique kind of specialist: one who understands the world of sustainability, as well as the world of marketing and communications.
According to another article on SUMAS, “unlike with traditional marketing, where the aim is to entice customers with products that appeal to a certain lifestyle or a feeling, sustainable marketing is shifting efforts on being more customer-centric than product-centric.”
Equally, as more companies tap into sustainability communications, so are the public becoming more discerning and alert to a concept called Green Washing. That is why experts in this field must understand, be aware of and assist in driving sustainability and transparency.
Greentproject.eu defines a green entrepreneur as “someone who starts and runs an entrepreneurial venture that is designed to be green in its products and processes from the very moment it is set up.”
Whilst they can and some certainly do, green startups do not have to solely specialise in sustainability. Rather, being a green entrepreneur means that whatever the choice of business field, sustainability will be embedded into every element of the business and be a key driving factor for all decision making.
There is often still misconception around what it means to be sustainable. There is a growing understanding that it takes more than just changing light bulbs and recycling to be a sustainable business. But the more practical knowledge and experience that a green entrepreneur has about sustainability and how it plugs into business, the better.
It has never been clearer that jobs in sustainability are growing and necessary. With a visible shift to include sustainability into many different career types, this could be a likely indication that sustainability will become synonymous with every job description and business type in the future.