Future of Work Trends: Innovation In Sustainability

Future of Work Trends:  Innovation In Sustainability

Fifteen years ago, my friend, Steve asked if I’d give up my coveted parking space in a building across the ferry building in San Francisco.  He worked for a car sharing company and they were expanding rapidly and they wanted my space.  What was the incentive?  Doing my part to reduce my carbon footprint.  With the unusual reduction in car travel during the pandemic, it’s shed more light on how we can reduce emissions. Climate change problems won’t be solved overnight but it does provide a window into career opportunities for people who enjoy solving complex problems. We took a look at sustainability and different career opportunities.

Environmental & Green Industry:

Since the U.S. rejoined the World Health Organization and the Paris Accords, there’s a renewed focus on environmental issues.  It’s a great start but it isn’t enough.  In fact, a recent study revealed that the world must nearly double its greenhouse gas-cutting goals to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. As a result, more people will be needed in urban planning to design carless sustainable cities. Check out this innovative idea from France where urban designers planted trees over a footbridge in Paris.

Companies know they need to be proactive and make substantial changes to be more sustainable because ultimately, it will help their bottom line.  According to the New York Times, “In all, the world’s largest companies estimated that at least $250 billion of assets may need to be written off or retired early as the planet heats up. Those assets include buildings in high-risk flood zones, or power plants that may have to shut down in response to tighter pollution rules.” As regulations regarding energy standards are implemented, organizations will need to prepare for a potential rise in operational and investment costs. But the companies that are able to innovate by putting climate change at the center of their strategic planning and successfully build a low-carbon, high-resilience supply chain can look forward to reduced costs and increased efficiencies.  Because of this reality, being forward thinking is at the top of the list for many CEOs.   

Green Jobs in Demand:

Environmental Science and Protection Technician - Need Associate's Degree

Job responsibilities for this career include monitoring organizations to ensure they are in compliance with safety regulations, gathering and analyzing water, soil, or air samples, and creating reports based on sample analysis to help improve organizations' environmental compliance. Environmental science and protection technicians are often employed by management, scientific, and technical consulting firms or government agencies and may often travel or work outside. This career usually requires an associate's degree in environmental science or a related field.

Sustainability Specialist - Need Bachelor's Degree

A sustainability specialist assists organizations and they create and streamline green work processes. You will do so by examining an organization's natural resource and energy usage, presenting organizations with recommendations on cost-effective ways to improve their environmental footprint, and designing and implementing public relations material to educate the public on sustainability issues. Sustainability specialists will need a bachelor's degree.

Social Marketer - Need Bachelor’s Degree

Branding social enterprises or social marketing campaigns in order to change public behavior and to be more transparent are also in high demand. If storytelling and account management interest you, look at design firms and agencies working on these kinds of projects such as IDEO and Fenton to spark inspiration.  

Green Terms:

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 

There are 17 SDG goals, created by the United Nations Development Program and adopted in 2015 by 193 countries.  They’re meant to be “a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.” Focusing on sustainable development will ramp up investment in interconnected areas such as green infrastructure, health, education, conservation of land and water, justice and equity. Many nonprofits and the private sector have been encouraged to align at least one aspect of their organization to one of the 17 SDG initiatives. If you’re passionate about any of these global problems, talk about it in an interview if the company clearly states their SDGs on their site.  That could be a memorable interview.

Environmental Social & Governance (ESG) 

As more companies become transparent (because consumers are demanding it) about their commitment to ESG, the more knowledge will be needed about how to monitor companies. Many investment firms need knowledgeable people who know how to monitor companies and about “impact investing” They’re looking for people to conduct research on ESG compliant companies.  It’s also called “SRI” for socially responsible investing. Blackrock is a global investment firm that has a social impact fund and they’re also a company that values hiring older, experienced professionals.  Researchers, writers and marketers are positions they have posted currently.

Even though I opted to keep my car space in San Francisco all those years ago, I’m more aware about the need to have essentials nearby so I can walk instead. With workplace transformation and a lack of offices needed, I wonder what will happen to all those parking lots downtown?


Reviewed & Recommended:

ESG framework by McKinsey

11 eco-friendly brands that put the planet first - 99designs

Six Companies Stepping Up with Investments in Economic and Social Justice

Climate Action Tracker: Home