In the recently released 2015 State of Green Business Report, experts from GreenBiz and Trucost present some intriguing insights into the state of the sustainability profession. The researchers surveyed 945 sustainability professionals from around the US to assist in their assessment.
The results of the survey showed that while in-house sustainability teams have been growing over the past few years, the budgets that these teams have to work with are not increasing significantly. Around 40% of large companies have brought more manpower to their sustainability departments in the last two years. This seems to indicate that companies do consider it to be an important area that deserves the allocation of resources. However, at the same time, the majority of companies have stagnant sustainability budgets that remain relatively small. Three quarters of these annual budgets are less than $1 million, including many corporations with over $1 billion in revenue.
There are also concerns about the nature of the work that in-house sustainability professionals are tending to do more and more of. Many professionals are voicing concern that rankings and supply-chain questionnaires are continuing to mushroom, taking up more of their time. As the report puts it, this is “transforming sustainability from being a proactive and strategic approach to business to becoming a series of reactive and compliant functions. This risks reducing sustainability’s relevance and importance in the corporate world.”
Despite these worrying signs there is good news for those interested in entering the field. Demand for sustainability jobs has grown by over 50% over the past four years. The next few years will be crucial as the profession either matures out of its current adolescent stage or fails to gain momentum.