The profession of sustainability or CSR is a young profession. That is why, in 2018, the Sustainability University launched the annual State of The Sustainability Profession Survey among CSR/sustainability professionals to measure progress and detect trends. This year’s survey shows the first decline in 4 years in embedding sustainability within companies. Last year, the Sustainability University indicated that to fully integrate CSR in companies by 2030, the results of the CSR manager must improve significantly every 3 years. With a decrease from 6.7 (2020) to 5.7 (2021) – on a scale of 10 – this will not be achieved.
The number of master’s programs in CSR-related disciplines has steadily increased over the years. The number of sustainability professionals who want to continue working in CSR/Sustainability for life is striking. In 2021 95% of sustainability professionals indicate that they want to continue their sustainability career, in 2018 this was only 50%.
“Integrated acting is really crucial to advancing sustainability, it is a shame to see that the level of integration of sustainability in business processes has dropped this year. It is really important that sustainability managers gain more company-wide knowledge,” says Elfrieke van Galen, director of Sustainability University and partner at sustainability consultancy firm TheRockGroup. According to the Sustainability University, the importance of embedding sustainability in all business processes lies in integrated thinking, acting and reporting. After all, sustainability managers strive to make sustainability an integral part of their strategy and to report on it integrally. This means that a company must also act integrally, in other words from all the different business processes.
The decline in embedding sustainability can also be partly explained by the fact that sustainability professionals spend less and less time on their mentor, innovator and monitor roles. Moreover, participants in the survey indicated that these roles are not at the top of their list to develop, unlike other roles such as strategist, coordinator and initiator that are becoming increasingly popular. It is important that sustainability professionals invest in all roles, as previous research from Sustainability University (based on the book ‘7 Roles to Create Sustainable Success’ by Carola Wijdoogen) shows that balancing these roles will help CSR managers implement sustainability in accelerate their organizations.
The message from the Sustainability University in response to this survey is that the sustainability professional definitely needs more company-wide knowledge. The Sustainability University hopes that during the next ‘State of the Sustainability Profession Event’ on September 15, 2022, major progress in embedding sustainability in all sustainability processes can be celebrated together.
About the Sustainability University
The Sustainability University, founded by Carola Wijdoogen and Elfrieke van Galen, aims to accelerate the development of CSR professionals to become more successful in their work and in achieving the challenging sustainability goals. The comprehensive results of the survey were shared today at the sixth edition of the State of the Sustainability Profession Event, supported by Arcadis, 7Roles, TheRockGroup and an increasing number of participating sustainability professionals. The full publication of the research can be found on the website of the Sustainability University. For an explanation of the results, please contact Elfrieke van Galen via firstname.lastname@example.org or 06 50 61 01 73.