Environment and sustainability roles at risk, employment survey shows

Thursday, 14 February, 2013

A report by specialist recruitment firm envirosearch reveals that the landscape which has seen many professionals enter the environment and sustainability sector over the past decade may now be at a crossroads due to a cautious approach from the corporate sector.

The survey of over 1000 industry professionals in 116 predominantly ASX 200 companies highlighted the threat to the environment profession, with many respondents claiming the current level of internal resourcing presents the biggest challenge moving forward.

Julie Honore, Managing Director of envirosearch, said, “Flattening demand for senior environment and sustainability professionals in recent months may indicate that the function is at risk of being absorbed back into other business functions as a result of ongoing difficult business conditions and a cautious approach by some businesses.

“It is very concerning to see Australian business taking a short-sighted view by winding back investment and focusing on compliance simply because the economy shows signs of weakness. The approach to wind back at the strategic level will likely result in overlap in responsibilities leading to inefficiency, dilution of the messages being conveyed and ‘green washing’ that was rife when the function first emerged. Investment in a strong environmental and sustainability function is key to having a social licence to operate.

“While the resources sector in particular continues to value strong environmental and sustainability functions, other sectors are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to sustainability. Our observation is that 2013 will prove to be a pivotal point for corporate sustainability.”

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