The Rise of Sustainability Consultants: A Glimpse Inside the Profession of the Decade

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Sustainability was once a nebulous concept, often obscured by layers of ambiguity, particularly when it came to the role of consultancy. However, the fog of misunderstanding is clearing.

As governments prioritise genuine transformation, and net zero, green energy, accountability, and transparency become keynotes of global political discourse, the need for knowledgeable guidance is ever more pressing.

Enter sustainability consultants.

What do sustainability consultants do?

Sustainability consultants provide strategies and resources to navigate the increasingly complex world of sustainable operations. But what does a day in the life of a sustainability consultant look like? What challenges do they face, and what insights do they offer?

We sat down with the sustainability consultants at ClearVUE.Business, a net zero consultancy and software provider, to explore these questions and delve into the world of sustainability consultancy.

Speaking to clients and discovering their motivations for sustainability

Consultants start their day by speaking to clients to discover their motivations for sustainability. ClearVUE.Business Consultants identified four key pressures driving companies to embark on a sustainability journey:

#1. Investor Pressure

Sustainable businesses often create higher value in the long term and have a higher growth trajectory compared to their less sustainable peers. “Investors are increasingly allocating capital towards businesses with robust sustainability practices and divesting from non-sustainable businesses” sustainability consultant Tsvestina Pinadeau said.

#2. Consumer Pressure

Consumers are increasingly holding companies accountable for their environmental impacts.

#3. Value Chain Pressure

Partners within supply chains are motivating companies to become more sustainable. “For instance, there are examples of sustainability-conscious companies which request all their suppliers to commit to similar sustainability targets, otherwise they will cease business relationships” Pinadeau added.

#4. Regulatory Pressure

As regulations on non-financial information disclosure related to sustainability become more stringent, companies are gearing up to understand, report, and improve their sustainability performance. “We are therefore increasingly seeing companies engage us for carbon footprinting and GHG target setting tools as these are some of the most well-established sustainability metrics within commercial environments” sustainability consultant Laura Nadine Harron explained.

Client relations and strategy implementation

Sustainability consultants also engage in regular meetings with clients to assess performance related to energy efficiency and carbon accounting.

They provide advice on corrective actions depending on the company strategy. They also provide regular updates on sustainability-related information relevant to their client’s operations.

Companies are currently mobilising to better understand what type of data needs to be collected, so they can identify their current gaps in terms of knowledge and capacity, but also more importantly to explore where the opportunities lie. It is expected that other geographical markets will follow the EU in tightening legislation on standardising performance data and eliminating greenwashing. As a result, more significant sustainability related conversations are now being held in boardrooms all over the world” Harron added.

The evolving landscape of sustainability

The consultants noted that 2022 has seen significant strides with more businesses outlining net zero strategies by 2030 and 2050 with approved Science-based targets.

However, setbacks like difficulties in collecting reliable data and scandals within the carbon offset sector remind us that the journey towards sustainability is a challenging one.

Addressing misconceptions about sustainability

There are several misconceptions about sustainability that consultants wish they could change:

Motivation: The drive for sustainability should be rooted in making a positive social and environmental impact, not just in marketing.

Resistance to Change: Companies must embrace change to make significant strides in sustainability.

Long-term Value: Companies need to consider long-term and non-tangible factors, not just immediate financial gains.

The future of sustainability consultants

Sustainability consultants can help businesses become better for our environment, reducing their costs and improving their efficiency in the process.

As the climate crisis unfolds, the role of sustainability consultants will be more important than ever.

More businesses worldwide are taking real action in the decarbonisation of their operations by outlining net-zero strategies by 2030 and 2050 respectively” sustainability consultant Fabiola Useche concluded.

Navigating the path ahead

As we’ve seen, the role of a sustainability consultant is multifaceted, challenging, and immensely rewarding.

The industry is growing rapidly, offering immense opportunities for those interested in making a real impact on the future of our planet.

The role of a sustainability consultant is indeed an exciting career path, one that is shaping the world of tomorrow.

ClearVUE.Business consultants recognise the thriving nature of the sustainability sector, which translates to a necessary demand for skilled green professionals.

Choosing a career in sustainability presents an exciting trajectory with promising opportunities for individuals who proactively pursue education and training in this field. Early adopters of sustainability training will position themselves for a rewarding and fulfilling career path.

Picture of Matthew Channell
Matthew Channell
Matthew is TSW Training’s Commercial Director. He writes about performance focussed learning, leadership, and management approaches that have real-world, sustainable impact.
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