The 2013 State of Green Business report has recently been released from GreenBiz, and a worrisome trend has emerged: the hiring of sustainability managers is plateauing. Although the number of companies engaging in sustainability continues to grow, companies have stalled in hiring full-time sustainability managers.
GreenBiz argues in their State of Green Business report that having a sustainability hiring peak in 2009 followed by a hiring plateau could indicate two worrisome outlooks for sustainable businesses in the future. First, it could indicate that no more large corporations will be jumping onto the sustainability train, and that only the companies already invested in going green will continue to invest in sustainability. Second, it could indicate that corporations investing in sustainability believe that their green practices have or will become ingrained into their business’ strategies, and don’t require a sustainability manager to coordinate sustainability strategies and efforts. The first of those possible explanation is worrisome because it indicates that interest in sustainability may be plateauing among large corporations. The second possible explanation is worrisome because it indicates that businesses don’t fully understand the dynamic, complex environment that is business sustainability.
As the State of Green Business report states, “Customer and societal expectations around sustainability continue to rise in lockstep with the state of the art; yesterday’s best practice is today’s business as usual. And the techniques and technologies that enable companies to achieve sustainability excellence are still unfolding In this dynamic environment, it’s hard to succeed at sustainability without someone leading the charge…Companies that have demonstrated leadership in sustainability all have a senior executive whose full-time job it is to ensure programs are being conducted as effectively and efficiently as possible. It simply doesn’t happen any other way.” Unless a change is imminent, the hiring plateau of sustainability managers noted by the State of Green Business report foretells of only negative outcomes for sustainable businesses, despite the reasons for the trend.
To read the entire 2013 State of the Green Business report, here’s a link to the full PDF: