As organisational awareness of the importance and necessity to be sustainable continues to increase, so too does the need for senior management and human resources to understand the required skill sets, experience, and competencies of the individuals who can best develop, deliver and lead this strategy and vision.
In Acre's experience, this ‘person’ requirement will be highly dependent not only on the culture and goals of the organisation, but also on their immediate and perceived longer term sustainability ambitions.
As with any emerging discipline, there are different phases that organisations go through in the journey towards sustainability. Whichever phase your organisation is in, the individuals who are leading your sustainability strategy need a deep appreciation and awareness that it is not a static function, but a continually evolving business strategy that underpins the organisation.
Acre has produced more comprehensive discussion of the detail the ‘evolution of sustainability’ and the emergence of the Chief Sustainability Officer, but briefly identify that three phases have so far emerged:
the Reactive Phase - download job description - where there is a definite recognition of a need to engage in sustainability issues but a great deal of uncertainty and lack of expertise at board level
the Proactive Phase - download job description - where the business case for CR has been established and approved and has senior level buy in and support, and where there is a development of a clear vision of CR aims which are aligned with the organisation’s culture and aspirations; and
the Opportunity Phase - download job description - where sustainability is considered a valuable part of corporate strategy and is embedded deep within the organisation.
These should be seen as templates rather than definitive guides, and we doubt that any organisation will be able to use them as an ‘off the shelf’ product, but they are symbolic of the current market for Sustainability Professionals.