What You Need to Know About Hiring a Sustainability Manager

Sustainability Managers

All You Need to Know Before Hiring a Sustainability Manager


In recent years, there has been a rise in the trend of organisations committing to sustainable business practices. 7,500 companies have committed to reducing their carbon footprint based on scientific targets, and nearly one-third of Europe's most prominent public companies have pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

This positive trend can be traced to increased stakeholder and regulatory pressure. While some organisations are engaging to meet compliance requirements, others have found that integrating sustainability into their business strategy provides tangible value.  

However, whether your organisation is looking to be sustainable for compliance reasons or as part of your values, integrating sustainability into core business operations can be a complex and challenging task.

Many companies need more internal expertise, resources, or dedicated time to implement and manage their sustainability efforts effectively.

Trying to implement sustainability efforts without requisite knowledge or resources can lead to unintentional consequences such as the risk of greenwashing and incorrectly linking sustainability and business strategy.

Doing the latter could mean that sustainability is not properly integrated into the business, minimising the potential financial results and positive impact a well-drawn and implemented sustainability strategy could have delivered. 

This is where a Sustainability Manager comes in. Sustainability Managers can guide businesses through the complex sustainability landscape and help them achieve numerous benefits.

The number of companies appointing a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) is rising rapidly: in 2021,  more CSOs were hired than in the previous five years combined.

But who exactly is a Sustainability Manager, and what do they do? This will be the focus of this article. 


What is the role of a Sustainability Manager?  

A Sustainability Manager is a professional who leads and oversees a company's sustainability initiatives. Sustainability Managers work across various departments, collaborating with internal stakeholders to identify opportunities to minimise environmental impact, promote social responsibility, and ensure economic viability. 


Key challenges a Sustainability Manager addresses  


Boosting sustainability transformation

Skilled and committed Sustainability Managers are essential for successfully implementing an economy that aligns with societal needs and planetary boundaries. They can make a real impact by connecting the dots across an organisation, boosting the sustainability transformation.    

Introducing new initiatives can be difficult, particularly when employees are accustomed to existing practices. Such situations can create resistance to change. To ensure success, it is vital to effectively communicate the benefits of new sustainability initiatives and persuade employees to support the change. This is where a Sustainability Manager plays a crucial role. They can raise employee awareness and develop strategies to encourage an active approach towards achieving sustainability goals.


Environmental, Social, & Governance impact

A Sustainability Manager integrates sustainability principles into decision-making processes and embeds them into corporate governance. Doing so demonstrates an organisation's commitment to long-term value creation and ethical business practices.  

While the board of directors plays a crucial role in overseeing sustainability performance, a Sustainability Manager can support them by providing relevant information and recommendations and ensuring sustainability is integrated into the organisation's strategic planning process.

What makes having a dedicated individual effective is having the decision-making authority to execute change, particularly regarding priority sustainability topics that affect multiple functions or that have a material impact on the overall organisation.

A Sustainability Manager drives forward the sustainability agenda rather than leaving it as an afterthought.  

Social sustainability is about identifying and managing business impacts, both positive and negative, on people. Having a Sustainability Manager to ensure sustainable business practices encourages ethical and responsible behaviour towards employees, suppliers, and communities. This includes fair labour practices, responsible sourcing, workplace health and safety, and community engagement.  

Beyond social and governance issues, Sustainability Managers help companies reduce their carbon footprint, mitigate climate change risks, and conserve natural resources.

Countries like Sweden and Germany have legally binding net zero targets for 2045, while others like the UK, Canada, and Japan have a 2050 net zero commitment.

Having a Sustainability Manager ensures a company commits to reducing its environmental footprint and meets stringent targets set by the company or government. 

Their responsibilities may include: 

  • Ensuring regulatory compliance by anticipating trends, establishing adherence to sustainability laws, and reporting; 
  • Developing and implementing sustainability strategies and integrating them into the business strategy; 
  • Monitoring and reporting on sustainability metrics; 
  • Managing stakeholder relationships through ongoing dialogue and transparent communication;  
  • Collaborating with various departments to integrate sustainability into core operations; 
  • Building organisational capacity by identifying skill gaps, implementing educational initiatives, and sharing best practices; 
  • Raising employee awareness and fostering cultural change by defining the company’s sustainability purpose and establishing routines to reinforce change.  

The scope of a Sustainability Manager's role can encompass a wide range of issues, including ethical sourcing, community engagement, fair working conditions, diversity, equity & inclusion, energy efficiency, waste reduction, resource management, and supply chain transparency.  


Key skills of a Sustainability Manager

The skill requirements for a Sustainability Manager vary based on the primary sustainability focus of an organisation. However, a Sustainability Manager should generally have a combination of technical and soft skills. These include:  

Technical skills
  • Understanding of environmental and social sustainability;  
  • Knowledge of sustainability best practices and regulations; 
  • Strong business acumen; 
  • Ability to link financial and non-financial information; 
  • Data analysis and reporting skills.  
Soft skills
  • Strategic thinking and planning;  
  • Communication and collaboration;  
  • Leadership and change management;  
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking.  


How can Nexio Projects help?  

At Nexio Projects, we provide solutions and assist organisations on their journey from compliance to purpose. Our Outsourced Sustainability Management service supports organisations in creating and executing sustainability strategies and driving and overseeing sustainability initiatives within the company.

Through this service, a dedicated Outsourced Manager/Officer will be actively present and engaged, offering top-class sustainability and project management expertise.  

We have a proven record of working on sustainability projects across various industries, and our expertise combines both holistic sustainability and climate knowledge. Unlike individual officers/managers, Nexio Projects can provide a whole team with one point of contact (the manager/officer), meaning the client will receive more sustainability expertise in one go. 

You can expect us to support with:  

  • Developing and implementing strategies and initiatives 
  • Supporting with policy creation and goal-setting exercises  
  • Supporting with short and long-term planning  
  • Setting up sustainability reporting systems  
  • Supporting with dissemination of information  
  • Creating awareness and training material  
  • Monitoring and supporting with relevant regulatory compliance

Read this client's story to find out more about our outsourced sustainability services.


Kraton Snapshot



The role of Sustainability Manager is on the rise. Integrating sustainability into core business operations can be complex, but essential for businesses in today's world.

Investing in sustainability is now a strategic necessity rather than an option for businesses. By taking proactive steps to adopt sustainable practices, companies can positively impact the environment, their communities, and their bottom line.

Sustainability Managers act as champions for environmental, governance and social responsibility, guiding companies through the process of developing and implementing effective sustainability strategies.

By offering expertise, resources, and a strategic approach, Sustainability Managers can help businesses reduce their environmental impact, enhance brand reputation, achieve cost savings, and gain a competitive edge.

If your company is looking to navigate the green transition and embrace a more sustainable future, consider the valuable role that a Sustainability Manager can play in your organisation's success. 


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