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Sustainability profession under the spotlight

Friday, October 5, 2018

The integration of the ‘sustainability role’ inside companies is moving forward, but is certainly not yet fully achieved. The Greenbiz 5th ‘State of The Sustainability Profession’  report also indicates that pressure from customers and investors are now 2 main factors that impact an organisations sustainability programme. CSR Europe participated to the Greenbiz survey to get a full picture.

Sustainability both as a profession and a career path is continuing to evolve. How has the role of the sustainability leader evolved in the last years? Who does the pressure come from? How much does a Sustainability executive earn? To find out, CSR Europe partnered with Greenbiz Group to conduct an in-depth survey. The full results are compiled in their 5th State of the Profession Report

Specialists on the rise

The biggest change in the sustainability profession since conducting this research has been the following evolution:

  • from a tactical role (publishing reports and engaging stakeholders) to a more strategic role (change management and innovation)
  • from sustainability generalists to an increasing demand for sustainability specialists.

The past years has shown a marked increase in dedicated sustainability personnel in Facilities and Supply Chain.

Mounting pressure from customers and investors

On the question: what factor would most impact your sustainability programme? Top 2 responses from large companies are pressure from customers and investors. Product and organisational transparency is increasingly more communicated to consumers and investors. In some industries, customer pressure is augmented by aggressive sustainability commitments by competitors.   Lately the game has been changing. Corporations are no longer asked to only supply ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) data. They are being asked to provide context for the numbers, specifically the financial implications of ESG performance.

How much does a Sustainability Manager earn?

Not much has changed in sustainability professionals’ compensation from previous years. The 2016 survey showed a slight blip in average salary for vice presidents, but that was likely skewed by a handful of respondents reporting very high salaries in 2016.



Salary in 2018



Manager/Senior Manager

110.453 $


Director/Senior Director

163.753 $


Vice President/Senior Vice President

219.257 $



Download the report here.

For more information, please get in touch with Pascale Wauters (