More companies are hiring sustainability professionals, with the green goods and services field increasing 5 percent from 2010 to 2011 to reach 3.4 million workers, but there’s still considerable room to grow, according to a report published by the McGraw Hill Financial Global Institute.
The report, Managing Organizational Sustainability: Demonstrating the Business Case for Sustainability Professionals in the Workplace, says there’s a need for sustainability workers across all industries.
Written by authors from the Center for Green Schools at the US Green Building Council, the study says that a consensus has yet to be reached as to how sustainability staff should approach their work and evaluate their progress.
Sustainability officers take on complex and unique roles and responsibilities across functions and departments, the report says. The authors suggest that despite the complexity of the job, worker performance should be measured and tied to the company’s sustainability outcomes.
“Initiatives that align the business case with environmental performance are the holy grail of sustainability program success,” says Anisa Baldwin Metzger, who leads school district sustainability for the Center for Green Schools at USGBC and is one of the authors of the report.
Commitment from upper management and access to top leadership is a key determining factor of sustainability performance, according to the report.
The researchers also found that most organizations create sustainability programs as a result of direct or indirect pressures from suppliers, customers, shareholders, consumers, investors or regulators.
A new initiative called Measure What Matters, led by the Green Economy Coalition, aims to bring greater alignment between corporate, national and global metrics of success to accelerate the transition to sustainable economies. The new project uses non-financial sustainability indicators as a benchmark rather than profit alone.