How a Sustainability Manager Can Benefit Your Business

 

Photo by Harvard Business School

Many individuals have decided to adopt eco-friendly habits, but businesses, especially those with a large environmental footprint have an obligation to take responsibility as well. 

A large organization has more opportunities to reduce its carbon footprint than the average household and business leaders should always be thinking of new ways to make their organizations more sustainable. Hiring a sustainability manager is a great choice for businesses of all sizes that are ready to reduce their impact and become more sustainable. 

What Does a Sustainability Manager Do? 

A sustainability manager, sustainability officer, or sustainability director is a person who is in charge of creating and implementing sustainability initiatives within an organization. Instead of placing the responsibility for these initiatives on busy executives who might not have the knowledge or bandwidth to effectively drive sustainability-focused changes, the sustainability manager can combine their knowledge of the organization with their knowledge of effective environmentally friendly and compliant business policies. 

The responsibilities of a sustainability manager include research, collaboration, and implementation. They might also be required to lead a team in order to meet the organization’s sustainability goals. 

Research responsibilities involve brainstorming and seeking out new solutions to make their organization “greener” while initiating cost savings, more profit and new branding prospects. The sustainability manager must understand relevant policies and remain compliant when considering new initiatives. In their role, they must also be able to collaborate with leadership and different teams to achieve successful implementation. 

Benefits of Hiring a Sustainability Manager 

A sustainability manager helps to ensure that a company’s sustainability goals don’t get pushed aside in the race for growth and profits. When someone on staff is dedicated to those goals alone, the organization is more likely to prioritize sustainability initiatives. Hiring a sustainability manager provides structure and accountability to help push sustainability efforts along. 

Another major benefit is specialization. Hiring someone who is passionate about sustainability, yet understands the benefits and challenges facing organizations in becoming more earth-friendly will help to ensure that any changes made will actually be helpful in reducing the company’s carbon footprint. 

Including a sustainability expert on the payroll also helps to improve a company’s image and communicates to customers and employees that the issue is important to the organization. 

Finally, a sustainability manager can help to ensure work environment safety. Sustainability can also overlap with health and safety roles, coming together to make sure employees are in safe working conditions. 

When Should You Hire a Sustainability Manager? 

If you have a small to medium-sized business, then you might want to wait to hire a sustainability manager and instead incorporate this role into an existing position. Hiring a dedicated staff member may be more efficient as a company grows larger. For smaller businesses, it can likewise be a good idea to hire a sustainability consultant on an as needed basis to help you get on track with your sustainability journey. 

Sustainability Manager Qualifications 

Since this role is considered to be a newer career path, many hiring managers don’t know what to look for when hiring a sustainability manager. Here an internal hire may facilitate the process since the candidate will already have insights into the business and its desired goals and milestones coupled with a passion for sustainability. 

If hiring externally, generally a candidate should have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and at least 3-5 years of experience in a corporate or hands-on setting like within a startup. They should also have in-depth knowledge of sustainability practices and regulations. 

The ideal sustainability manager will be an excellent communicator with good leadership skills. They should be able to perform research effectively and have good problem-solving skills. Some creativity is also required for this role as innovative solutions might be needed to address an organization’s sustainability shortcomings. 

A sustainability manager will also have to be a skilled presenter and must be able to manage a budget. With a wide range of demands and responsibilities within the role, a candidate must be adaptable and confident. 

Beware of “Greenwashing” 

It’s important to remember that hiring a sustainability manager is about more than just optics. Yes, it looks good to customers and investors when a company appears to be taking environmental preservation seriously. But if you don’t back it up with action, your company will be guilty of greenwashing. 

Greenwashing is essentially appearing to be invested in eco-friendly business practices, while really continuing to perpetuate practices that harm the planet. An ethical business should never engage in greenwashing and should hire a sustainability manager with the willingness to follow through on the best solutions for creating a greener company. 

Sustainability is Everyone’s Responsibility

Companies have gotten away with polluting and exploiting the environment for a long time. As we consider the looming threat of climate change, however, it’s long past time for companies to step up and do their part. We need everyone to take on this responsibility, for the health of the planet and for our collective quality of life. 

The win-win? Sustainability is also good for business.

 

Sea Going Green is a leading sustainable tourism consultancy working with marine tourism businesses to develop strategies that bridge sustainability with existing values and goals.


Is sustainability the path forward for you? Book an introductory call to find out.
Many individuals have decided to adopt eco-friendly habits, but businesses,
especially those with a large environmental footprint have an obligation to
take responsibility as well. Hiring a sustainability manager is a great
choice for businesses of all sizes that are ready to reduce their impact
and become more sustainable.Read MoreEducationBlog – Sea Going Green

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