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UK Sustainability Sector Outstrips National Average for Job Satisfaction, Pay, Growth

Image Credit: Breather

Last week, new analysis from B Corp determined that companies using business as a force for good outperform those who don’t. Now, a study from the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), an international professional body for environmental practitioners, has revealed that sustainability professionals report higher job satisfaction than the UK average.

Statistics from the survey, which has been running since 2005, shows that almost seven in 10 professionals in the environment and sustainability sector say they are satisfied or highly satisfied in their jobs. One-third of respondents who have moved into the profession from another sector are even happier, with their satisfaction rising to 78 percent. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Employee Outlook report, the national average for job satisfaction stands at 64 percent, or 60 percent according to recruitment expert CV-Library.

These results are largely attributed to factors including rising pay, stable employment and career mobility. The profession enjoyed modest growth in take-home pay during 2017, with median salaries rising 2.6 percent from £39,000 to £40,000 in a year — well above the UK average of £28,758. A total of 17 percent of respondents also reported being promoted within the last year, while 60 percent have gained a post-graduate qualification during their career.

“It’s fantastic that yet again, we are able to report that this is a profession that exceeds the national averages for job satisfaction, employability and pay,” said Tim Balcon, CEO of IEMA. “Anyone looking for a job that recognizes and rewards dedication and the ability to make positive change should look no further. People in this profession are happy, do rewarding and varied work, are in control of their development, can rely on the right kind of career mobility and have healthy salaries.”

While the results of the survey were overwhelmingly positive, disparities in salaries for men and women continues to be a cause for concern. The gender pay gap has narrowed by 2.6 percent in the last 12 months, but at 14.1 percent, it is still higher than the national average. The survey also found that women are under-represented in senior roles across the sector.

Despite the scale of sustainability challenges and political uncertainty caused by Brexit, IEMA reports that more than half (56 percent) of environment and sustainability professionals are optimistic about tackling the challenges ahead — up 13 percent from last year. However, the under-30 cohort is slightly more skeptical, with one-third saying they are unsure about the difference they can make in the face of so many challenges.

Sixty-four percent of professionals want to see evidence of stronger political leadership on environment and sustainability issues, while 35 percent want to see evidence of more cross-industry collaboration to address the most pressing sustainability challenges.

“This profession has a huge responsibility on its shoulders, yet I am not surprised that so many practitioners are undeterred. This is a group of people who dedicate their entire careers to tackling challenges and delivering against global goals for a sustainable future,” Balcon added.

“The issues we have to overcome aren’t limited to environmental challenges; I am pleased to see the pay gay between men and women is closing, but we have far to go. I want to call on all employers to address how they support the career paths of gifted female workers as well as those from diverse backgrounds. The levels of talent, knowledge, skill and ambition in the IEMA membership — all evidenced in the 2018 State of the Profession report – is beyond impressive and employers risk missing out if they don’t take the right steps now.”


Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]


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