A chief sustainability officer has the primary responsibility to address sustainability efforts and issues for a company. These executives oversee the entire sustainability strategy of a company. The United Nations defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Watch a video to learn what a sustainability officer does:
How to Become a Chief Sustainability Officer
According to O*NET OnLine, just about every chief sustainability officer surveyed reported as having a higher education. Almost 50% hold at least a bachelor’s degree, with the rest having either a master’s degree or holding a certification after receiving their bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree needed may depend on your experience. You would need a blend of business savvy and knowledge about the environment and sustainability efforts.
If you are seeking a career as a sustainability officer, a bachelor’s degree in business or environmental studies would benefit you. You can also look at other sciences such as biology and consider minoring in environmental studies.
Job Description of a Chief Sustainability Officer
A chief sustainability officer is a leader within an organization whose responsibility is to address sustainability issues. They develop strategies to reduce a company’s overall population footprint (or ecological footprint) so that they can reduce their energy consumption, recycle more often, find ways to reuse materials and reduce pollution output.
Chief sustainability officers would also supervise those working on their sustainability projects and collaborate with others at the company to discover other ways to reduce waste. Then, they would report the progress of those sustainability efforts to others within the company.
Those in this position must stay current on sustainable techniques and research what other companies may be doing to tackle the issue. They would also provide education to other leadership at the company as well as staff on the importance of reducing waste and how everyone can help this cause.
Chief Sustainability Officer Career Video Transcript
Without someone to design strategies for resource conservation, there would be a lot more waste in our world. Chief sustainability officers play a critical role in setting and meeting goals to reduce such waste. Like many executive officers, chief sustainability officers supervise workers and projects. These leaders have a special focus on using technical expertise to balance environmental responsibility with stakeholder interests.
Chief sustainability officers must consider many factors in their planning efforts, including recycling, pollution reduction, energy usage, waste elimination, transportation, sustainability education, and building design. To meet goals and governmental regulations, they must also measure the success of their initiatives, and communicate the results for reports and presentations.
Most positions require graduate school, although some may be obtained with a bachelor’s degree. Knowledge of business and management, as well as sustainability practices, is needed. Certifications in environmental management and sustainability are a plus. Since the chief sustainability officer is often the point-person for large, dynamic, and time-sensitive projects, they tend to work 40 hours per week, or more. These professionals work tirelessly to merge business practicality and long-term sustainability for a brighter, cleaner world.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Top Executives.
National Center for O*NET Development. 11-1011.03. O*NET OnLine.
United Nations, General Assembly of the United Nations, Sustainable Development.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.