Women holding cashBy Christina Meinberg, Marketing Manager, Center for Responsible Business

As a CRB Blog reader, there is a very high probability that you want to leverage your business skills to make a difference or are already doing so.  But whether you’re a 15-year veteran or a student seeking your first internship, you probably have questions about the state of salaries and career progression in this field, such as…

Will I make a decent salary in the sustainability field, now and over time?  Can I bring my values to work and pay off my MBA debt load simultaneously?  How will I negotiate a job offer and find industry-specific “comps”?  What career paths and options are possible over time?  What are the salary ranges that people are currently working within companies versus consulting to them?

Want to know if your salary sizes up?  Search no longer.

Sustainability Salary Survey Data

A few organizations have conducted research in this area; check out Greenbiz Group’s “2011 Salary Survey”.  A few high-level take-aways include:

  • 86% of large companies now have at least one full-time person dedicated to spending all of their time on sustainability (up 4% from the previous year).
  • Vice presidents of sustainability earn an average base salary of $218,409 (with a median of $225,000); 90%+ also reported receiving an additional bonus.
  • In terms of gender, men dominate at the highest levels of sustainability within companies; there is also an 11% gap between a female vice president’s average pay and a male’s, and a 20% gap between female and male directors.

Another group that tracks performance and salary data, is Acre, Acona and Ethical Performance.  In their latest report, “The Corporate Responsibility Salary Survey 2010”, nearly 600 professionals were surveyed (72% in-house, 28% consultants).  Findings from the predominantly UK-focused study included:

  • Consultants are generally not paid as generously as those working in-house; the spread is to the tune of $15K/year, on average (and of the 50% of consultants who reported receiving a bonus, it amounted to an average of $8K less than those who received one in-house).
  • Increasing salary for sustainable business consultants often hinges upon the ability to provide management consulting versus merely technical advice and services.
  • 90% of respondents arrived in their roles from similar roles (meaning that 1 in 10 have never worked in another area within the company), demonstrating strong personal conviction and dedication to corporate responsibility as well as a unique skill set and perspective that corporate responsibility professionals are able to bring to their roles.

Ready for more up-to-date stats?  Stay tuned, as the 2012 survey results are slated to go live in about two months, or July of this year.

Learn More

I encourage you to read through the aforementioned reports and also to leverage your sustainability networks and share information with one another.  Berkeley-Haas students have access to the Haas Career Management Office and CRB Career Advising Programs, and both current students and alumni may also access historic MBA employment stats.

Those of you who are in the position to hire sustainability professionals should consider benchmarking salaries by calling colleagues, just as you might if you were hiring people to work at a start-up.

Furthermore, do your part in building the data: take time to fill out information in online data-gathering places such as Glassdoor.  Other useful websites include Payscale, Salary.com, and Salary Expert.

Sharing Knowledge & Resources

Please send us your comments and post your thoughts on what other resources you are finding to be useful!  Where else can one find reputable data on sustainable business professionals’ salaries across various industries?