Taking Responsibility for Your ESG & Sustainability Career
Even if you are unsure about how to do it, it is important to take ownership over your career, especially in a field as diverse as sustainability. From continuous assessment to looking at your industry through lenses besides your current role, there are a number of ways those working in ESG and Sustainability can take responsibility for their careers.
As a basic first step, you should maintain the currency of any certifications and other relevant qualifications which you acquired as part of the start of your sustainability and ESG career. This may involve signing up for a short course or other certification for a year, or (the more common approach) submitting to an assessment or examination process to verify that your knowledge is still current.
Continuing to build on your self-education is hugely important, particularly in a fast-developing area like ESG and Sustainability. Look for opportunities to learn and apply what you’re learning into real-time situations in the workplace. If your manager or supervisor is open to it, suggest that you have regular catch-ups so that you can keep them in the loop about the areas you’re interested in. Letting them know what excites you about sustainability and where you see your personal development happening will help to align their knowledge with your goals. They may be able to recommend you for projects they’re aware of, or training courses or other opportunities that could help further your career.
Career-oriented professionals should also subscribe to relevant news alerts, websites and articles. You need to keep your finger on the pulse so that you’re aware of what will be topical, not only next week but 5 years from now and even 10 years from now.
Should you want to move from one area of ESG and Sustainability to another discipline, you’ll want to research into that area to better understand the mechanics of that role. For example, if you are working in an engineering-based role but are interested in getting involved with something like environmental auditing then you would need to brush up on the relevant competency requirements. Understanding the following requirements will give you a good grounding for such a move. They are based on ISO 17021 (an International Standard that provides Certification Bodies with a set of requirements that allows them to ensure that their management system certification process is undertaken in a competent and consistent way):
- Knowledge of business management practices
- Knowledge of audit principles, practices, and techniques
- Knowledge of specific management system standards or normative documents
- Knowledge of the certification body’s processes
- Knowledge of the client’s organisational sector
- Knowledge of the client’s products, processes, and organisation
- Language skills appropriate to all levels within the client organisation
- Note-taking and report-writing skills
- Presentation skills
- Interviewing skills
- Audit management skills
On the other hand, a non-engineering employee could take the time to learn more about engineering systems by for instance, taking the time to speak to the engineers within the organisation in order to broaden his/her understanding of those systems.
Further to education, experience and research, individuals that are serious about their ESG and Sustainability careers should be able to demonstrate just how invaluable they are to their organisation. Think about how you can help the organisation determine what is material to them. What role can you play in strategising those issues of materiality that can impact anything from the financial and economic aspects of the company to matters of legal regard and reputation.