Job satisfaction for sustainability professionals outperforms national average

Job satisfaction within the sustainability sector continues to outperform the national average, with factors such as pay rises, stable employment and career mobility all contributing to a "highly satisfied" workforce, a new survey has found.

The survey highlights a positive attitude coursing through the profession, with more than half of respondents optimistic about tackling future challenges

The survey highlights a positive attitude coursing through the profession, with more than half of respondents optimistic about tackling future challenges

Global sustainability body IEMA has today (5 March) released the results of an annual “State of the Profession” survey of 1,053 IEMA members, finding that job satisfaction in the environment and sustainability professions outperformed the UK average in 2017.

Almost seven in ten respondents claimed to be “satisfied” or “highly satisfied” with their jobs, above the CIPD’s national average response of 64% and the CV-Library’s 60%. Respondents that have recently moved into the profession from another sector – accounting for one-third of those surveyed – boasted even higher job satisfaction at 78%.

IEMA’s chief executive Tim Balcon said: “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. Anyone looking for a job that recognises 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.”

On average, the sustainability profession experienced a modest growth in salary last year, rising by 2.9% from £39,000 to £40,000, well above the UK average of £28,758. A total of 17% of respondents gained a promotion in 2017, while 60% have gained a post-graduate qualification during their career.

The survey highlights a positive attitude coursing through the profession, with more than half of respondents optimistic about tackling future challenges - heightened in recent times by the Brexit negotiations – an increase on 13% the year prior.

However, almost two-thirds of professionals want more political leadership on environmental issues, while a third want to see evidence on cross-profession collaboration to improve business sustainability.

Gender pay gap

The profession has shown signs of closing the gender pay gap that has been exposed on a wider scale. The difference between men and women’s earnings shrunk by 2.6% in 2017, but at 14.1%, the pay gap is still higher than the national average. Notably, the survey found that women are being under-represented in senior roles across the profession.

“The issues we have to overcome aren’t limited to environmental challenges; I am pleased to see the pay gap between men and women is closing, but we have far to go,” Balcon added. "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 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability (CRS) Salary Survey – produced by sustainability consultants Acre, Carnstone and Flag and published in 2016 – also reiterates that the pay gap in the sector is shrinking.

Matt Mace


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