From my vantage point, it seems the answer is yes. As a career counselor to MBA students, I’m always on the lookout for job and internship openings that I can pass on to our students. Sustainability job openings cross my desk daily and it seems that the openings have been increasing in both frequency and quality in recent months. Here are a few of the openings that have reached my desk in the last two weeks alone:
- Carbon Analyst, Carbon and Sustainability Team, Advantage IQ
- Consultant, Corporate Citizenship
- Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Specialist, Sodexho
- Director of Sustainability, confidential global industrial company in Brazil
- Director of Sustainability, Kimco Realty Corporation
- Environmental Consulting & Sustainability Services – Senior Manager, Deloitte
- Environmental Manager, Acciona Energy
- Global Labor Relations and Social Responsibility Specialist, Kimberly-Clark
- Sr. Brand Manager-Sustainable Brand Marketing, confidential consumer products company
- Sustainability Leader, Honeywell
- Sustainability Manager, Avery Dennison
- Sustainability Manager, Lowe’s
- Sustainability Operations Coordinator, Barrier West/Grays Harbor Paper
What’s more, these jobs are all “MBA desired” or “MBA preferred” level jobs, which tells me that companies increasingly see the connection between sustainability and business performance. When hiring for sustainability positions, these companies are not just looking for environmental, health, and safety (EHS) experts or compliance analysts; they are looking for individuals who can direct sustainability projects in the context of business strategy, finance, and operations decisions.
Within the broad category of sustainability hiring, there are further nuances. I asked Ellen Weinreb, founder of Sustainable Recruiting, if she has noticed any trends in sustainability hiring recently. She observed, “Consulting firm hiring has slowed down. Carbon-related software has picked up. Real estate has picked up. Local municipal projects have definitely picked up.”
What’s interesting to me is how broad the field of sustainability has become. Just look at the short list above; the companies range from industrials to pharmaceuticals to consumer goods. Beyond this snapshot there are also, as Ellen suggested, increasing roles for sustainability directors with municipal and county governments, universities, and other institutions beyond the private sector. Further, while the positions I noted above list sustainability as the primary job function, there are many more roles in which business professionals will work on sustainability issues from within an operations, marketing, or business strategy role.
Taken together, I’m optimistic that—recession or not—sustainable business job opportunities will continue to grow in 2011.