Big business has woken up to sustainability, because it makes both economic and business sense.
Sustainability has become a “game-changer” say Nike. “We have a bold, audacious innovation ambition that fuels our creative design process, drives innovation and propels us into the future. We call this Sustainable Innovation.”
‘The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan’ is integrated into its annual accounts and IKEA produce renewable energy equivalent to 50% of their energy consumption.
Greater buy-in to a sustainable business model, creates exciting career opportunities across; environmental management, energy management and health and safety.
Corporate Sustainability & Environmental Management
Tech solution companies have really boomed over the last 5-10 years, with companies such as CR360, Anthesis, Thinkstep and DNV-GL offering a SaaS (software as a service) web-based approach for reporting across; socially responsible investment (SRI), supply chain and compliance reporting.
Job opportunities within the sustainability software providers range from; project management and implementation, through sales and BD, to IT developers. Environmental backgrounds are desirable, but more an ability or knowledge of implementing software systems and the skills to train clients, are what these companies are looking for.
Circular economy & resource efficiency
"Any business that thinks it can succeed without adopting circular economy principles - forget it!" Mike Barry, Director at Plan A at M&S and other big names have signed up to partner with circular economy champion, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, such as; Kingfisher, Google, Unilever, Nike, Phillips and H&M. So this area is really gathering momentum.
Job opportunities within the circular economy include; sustainable design, waste and resources, as well as energy management. A technical background in resource management is almost always required and a proven ability to build networks and partnerships is highly desirable.
Responsible investment and corporate governance
Socially responsible investment (SRI) and environmental social governance (ESG) are also growth areas within the corporate sustainability recruitment marketplace.
Brand reputation can easily be damaged with a poor choice of investment. Media attention and higher levels of public scrutiny mean that corporations are coming under increased pressure to be mindful about where they are investing.
Job opportunities exist across the finance sector, as well as resource extraction and mining. Specialists in due diligence, corporate risk and social impact assessment (SIA) are well positioned to migrate into this growing sector.
Sustainable Design & Retrofit
New build may have stalled, due in part to economic uncertainty following the Brexit vote, however large asset management firms are increasingly looking to retrofit their properties along sustainable criteria.
Roles within BREEAM, LEED and Passivhaus are in high demand. Architectural and building consultancies such as Encraft, Architype and Gale & Snowden are all championing Passivhaus and have even hinted that we may see BREEAM being replaced by Passvihaus in the future.
2017 will see a large scale roll out of smart metres throughout the UK. The government wants energy suppliers to install smart meters in every home in England, Wales and Scotland by 2020, equating to more than 26 million homes!
Job opportunities across smart energy and smart grid include; electronic engineers, software developers (esp. Python), systems engineers, grid analysts and technical consultants.
FM & Energy Management
Energy management has been embraced by most large corporate businesses and you will usually find at least one energy manager within each business.
Energy managers will monitor energy consumption and efficiency, manage external reporting and compliance and in many cases manage the company’s energy projects strategy.
Health & Safety
Construction & CDM
Employee safety, health and wellbeing is all part of corporate sustainability. Every business should be looking after the health of its buildings, investments and employees (not necessarily in that order!).
Construction is a fast moving industry, as projects are completed and people move on. As a result, there is a large, well paid contracts market.
Many health and safety professionals like to gain experience across a variety of industries, and construction is a great place to start, giving valuable hands-on experience in a heavy industry sector.
Corporate Health & Safety
Much talk has been made about the rebranding of health and safety and we’re already seeing this on the ground. There is a general movement away from the strict compliance based approach to a more inclusive, educational strategy.
The modern health and safety practitioner is tech savvy; paper forms can be replaced by iPads and integrated online management systems allow for improved auditing and monitoring.
In many ways corporate business is leading the way in sustainability, much more than governments who are hampered by inter-country agreements and party politics.
by Miriam Heale, Marketing Manager at Allen & York