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Recruitment Trends in Corporate Sustainability & Environmental Management

2016-09-01 17:00:00 +0100 by Katie Pereira

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New initiatives and thinking are constantly driving the environmental agenda forward.  Today, more than ever environmental issues are in the spotlight; climate change, population increase and depletion of fossil fuels have forced humanity to explore other avenues and open up a variety of career choices for environmental professionals.

Increased tech solutions, a focus on the circular economy, ethical and eco-sourcing through supply chain and procurement, eco-packaging and design initiatives, as well as social and community strategies, are all current recruitment trends we are seeing within the environmental jobs market.

Tech solutions

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; sustainability, corporate responsibility (CR), socially responsible investment (SRI), EHS, supply chain and compliance reporting. 

Global carbon reduction targets, as well as national environmental compliance legislation requires companies to deliver a higher standard of environmental reporting.  Innovative tech solutions companies are delivering this reporting in one simple to use package, enabling businesses to streamline their systems.

Job opportunities: within the sustainability software providers range from; project management and implementation, through sales and business development and 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 Marks and Spencer, as quoted in the BITC’s ‘Smart Growth in the Circular Economy’.  Ellen MacArthur is also a huge champion for the circular economy and The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was founded to work with companies with the aim of accelerating their transition to a regenerative circular economy. 

A circular economy focuses on a ‘restorative economy’ which put simply means re-engineering products to last and be maintained, rather than be replaced or recycled, so they never enter the waste chain.  Imagine never owning your washing machine or dishwasher, but instead leasing it and having it repaired as new throughout its lifecycle.  Although we have some way to go, big names have signed up to partner with the foundation, such as; Kingfisher, Google, Unilever, Nike, Phillips, Renault, H&M and CISCO.  So this area is really gathering momentum.

Job opportunities: within the circular economy include; sustainable design, waste and resource management, 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; The Co-operative Bank, which was voted the UK's 'most ethical' brand in 2008 almost collapsed in 2013, due in the main to the discovery of a 1.5bn black hole, but also exacerbated by alleged reports of investment in tobacco and arms, as well as ex-chairman Paul Flowers caught in a drugs scandal.  The bank is now reported to be recovering, but are unlikely to post a profit until 2017 and it is this sort of bad investment choice that companies are now looking to avoid.

Media attention and higher levels of public scrutiny means that corporations are coming under increased pressure to be mindful about where they are investing.  Environmental professionals who specialise in due diligence, corporate risk and social impact assessment (SIA) are well positioned to migrate into job opportunities within the growing SRI and ESG markets. 

Job opportunities: exist with accounting and investment firms such as; EY, PwC, Deloitte and KPMG, as well as financial and banking institutions, and companies that have a heavy impact on developing regions and peoples, such as resource extraction and mining.

Contact Katie Pereira for Environmental and Sustainability Recruitment 

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