Over the past three years, this research has observed the emergence of three distinctive sustainability role types. The 2023 research seeks to investigate these role types further so that we might provide more granular and useful information for professionals seeking a specific career pathway in sustainability and for organisations seeking to recruit sustainability roles.
The three sustainability roles being investigated include:
General – Leads the strategic direction, facilitates coordination, and implementation of organisational sustainability
Specialist – Delivers specialist expertise on specific technical or specialist aspects of sustainability
Additional – Core role is in another part of the business, but has some sustainability responsibilities
“With sustainability continuing to grow as a focus for organisations, having good information to help specify the right role(s) for the organisation’s needs is critical to ensuring the appropriate capabilities are recruited. We’re seeing more scrutiny on organisational greenwashing now, and a key part of reducing that risk is in having the appropriate roles and skills to set and deliver the organisation’s sustainability agenda,” notes Sarah Holden, Director of Oxygen Consulting. “That’s why we’re really excited about the 2023 research, which will provide this information, by breaking down things like remuneration, gender pay, capabilities, support requirements, succession pathways and wellbeing by the role typologies. This will provide more meaningful insights for sustainability professionals, their organisations and people looking to get into sustainability as a career pathway.”
Founder and CEO of the Sustainable Business Network Rachel Brown says, “Every year we do this research we build a much clearer picture of the commitment that organisations, large and small, are making towards embedding sustainability. Gone are the days of having your CSR specialist on the side. All organisations are now very aware of the importance of getting good, timely sustainability strategies in place to deliver stronger performance. This research helps those wanting to work in sustainability understand the kinds of skills they need to develop to do justice to these critical roles – right across organisations and into the areas where business decisions are being made.”
Sustainable Business Council Executive Director Mike Burrell says, “We are thrilled to be partnering
for the fourth year on such important research, which provides us with a critical state of play of the
fast-evolving sustainability sector in Aotearoa New Zealand. We know the international sustainability context is moving rapidly as boards, executives and investors realise the scale and immediacy of the challenge and begin to prioritise the allocation of capital into climate and sustainability action. Ultimately this is the direction our businesses must continue to move in too, but to do so requires essential capability and skills. This research importantly helps us understand where the sector is going, and what might be required to ensure it can grow at the critical pace that is needed.”
Dr. Marjolein Lips-Wiersma, Professor of Ethics and Sustainability at Auckland University of Technology notices that “some sustainability roles are becoming increasingly complex and strategic whereas others are becoming more specialised. It is therefore really important to give sustainability officers opportunities for regular and ongoing training.”
This research is open from 7 February – 7 March 2023 to people currently working in a New Zealand organisation and have sustainability as part or all of their role. ‘Sustainability’ includes responsibilities to address social, environmental, and economic risks to the organisation and participants can be in full-time, part-time, or contractual positions within public, private, not-for-profit and charity sectors.
AUT’s Ethics Committee (AUTEC) has approved this research (AUTEC reference number 23/1) and a participants information form outlining the research in detail can be found here.
To go straight to the survey, click here.