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Sustainability Careers: Five Career Tips from GreenBiz Sustainability Salary Survey

Green Career Tip of the Week
"While there is no sea change in this journey,
we are encouraged by some of the [sustainability] trends we're seeing." comment about their new Sustainability Salary Survey just released their second annual Sustainability Salary Survey. Always fascinating to read their various reports with a filter for career related insights and tips. If you are exploring sustainability careers, it's definitely worth a read - the report and this newsletter. 

All the best,

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Tip of the Week: Sustainability Careers: Five Career Tips from GreenBiz Sustainability Salary Survey just published their second annual "GreenBiz Salary Survey 2011." If you are interested in working in sustainability, I highly recommend you take a few minutes to read this report and an accompanying blog post entitled 5 Myths About Sustainability Executives  Both having interesting tidbits of information for sustainability job seekers.

I thought I'd share a few of the highlights that I found for those considering (or working in) sustainability.

1) Sustainability is not a one-size-fits-all approach to business. A company's actions and strategies will depend on its own internal culture, the realities of its industry, the competition, and how extensive the supply chain is. (See page 6 to read quotes from executives about how sustainability is evolving in their organizations.)

Career Tip: If you want to work in a particular industry or company, invest time in researching how sustainability is unfolding within that environment.
2) The term "Sustainability" seems to be the winner...for now! The trend over the last three years has been a shift from talking about environmental, corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmental, health, and safety (EHS) to talking about sustainability. These other terms are disappearing, but they appear to be categorized under sustainability more and more. Time will tell if this trend continues.
Career Tip: As you search for or ask about sustainability positions within companies, it's more likely than ever before that the job titles within the company will include the word "sustainability."

3) More and more, sustainability is part of the corporate agenda--either sustainability is "already a permanent fixture and core strategic consideration" or it's "on the agenda permanently, but not core." This is especially true for consumer goods, automotive, and basic materials industries. (See page 15 for the specific data.)

Career Tip: When you have conversations with your contacts in companies, ask them where they see sustainability falling in the company's agenda." Probably not the right time to join a company if sustainability is not a top tier agenda item or only temporarily on the agenda. One way to get a sense of priority is to find out how many levels of the organization stand between the key sustainability leader and the CEO of the company.

4) The jury is still out when it comes to where sustainability positions reside within organizations. Take a look at this list (see page 10 for more details)! Sustainability function may report to:

  • Public affairs
  • Operations
  • Sales & marketing
  • Legal
  • Human resources
  • Environmental, Health, Safety
  • Product development
  • Strategy
Career Tip: When you begin networking into your target companies, do some due diligence to discover where sustainability resides. Knowing this, or asking questions to discover this information, will increase your credibility considerably.

5) Dedicated sustainability teams are growing in size, in some companies. Based on the data reported on page 14, teams of 1-5 people are decreasing, but teams of 6-10 are increasing. In addition there are a considerable number of teams with more than 20 people.

Career Tip: It's important to realize that much of the actual work on sustainability happens in departments throughout the company. To get results, the sustainability executive heading up the team must have influence within the organization.

One final statistic to share, job satisfaction for respondents continues to be high. For those working in large companies, 85% of the respondents are satisfied or very satisfied. For those in smaller companies, the satisfaction is still quite high at 79%.

If you want to learn about salary trends in the world of sustainability, take a look at the second part of the report - starting on page 16 through the end of the document.

 Copyright 2011, Transition Dynamics Enterprises, Inc

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About Us

Green Career Central(TM) is an online coaching and resource center designed to help mid-career professionals, students, new grads, and career counselors make sense of the green economy and the green job market.

Carol McClelland, PhD, author of the award-winning, Green Careers For Dummies, is one of the nation's leading green career experts and founder of Green Career Central. Throughout her career, Carol has helped thousands of people find careers that match their values and interests. 
Copyright (c) Transition Dynamics Enterprises, Inc. 2007-2011.
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