What’s the staffing and structure of your sustainability team?
The slow (some would argue stalled) economic recovery has many companies again looking inward to find ways to do more with less. Staffing levels and work processes are among those areas being scrutinized to squeeze the maximum efficiency from the least amount of resources.
We’ve all been there. As a sustainability professional, I have seen this profession grow during the last six years from obscurity (even ridicule) to top level management. Like so many, I started as a solo act; today I have a team of three. But I was curious – what is the typical staffing level for sustainability at companies? If I had to make the case for a certain staffing level, what would that number be?
To get a lay of the land, I conducted an informal poll* of 15 companies – ten in the electric utility sector and five non-utilities. What I learned was that the numbers are all over the boards. Sustainability teams range in size from one person shops to teams in excess of two dozen. In the utility industry, the average is two to four-person teams with some as large as seven. The non-utility companies also varied widely but they tend to be somewhat larger and closer to the CEO than their utility corporate social responsibility (CSR) peers typically are.
Few have Chief Sustainability Officers – still a bit of a rarity – and everyone relies on people across their organizations to make it happen. I thought my informal poll would provide clarity, but the moral of this story is that it’s a numbers game that relies heavily on management’s commitment to sustainability. The higher the commitment, the closer you tend to be to the CEO but that doesn’t always mean you have the big teams. I don’t necessarily think I need a bigger team but at least my suspicion that we are doing quite a lot with fewer resources than some of our peers is an accurate assessment. I’m happy being in the middle of the average in our sector with my three-person team, thank you very much.
How is sustainability managed in your company and do you think there are sufficient resources to support it?
Sandy Nessing is the Director of Sustainability & ESH Strategy & Design for American Electric Power Co. Inc.. She wrote and published AEP’s first Corporate Sustainability Report in 2007 and in 2010 published AEP’s first integrated Corporate Accountability Report, a combination of the annual sustainability report and Annual Report to Shareholders. Follow her on Twitter at @Watts4U.
*This poll was not scientific in nature and asked five simple questions:
1. How many people are dedicated to sustainability?
2. How far removed are you from the CEO?
3. Do you publish a corporate sustainability report annually?
4. Do you have a dedicated sustainability web site?
5. In which part of the company is sustainability located?
Entry filed under: EHS Management, Sustainability, Uncategorized. Tags: Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Management, Sustainability, Corporate Sustainability, EHS Management, sustainability management, EHS staffing, sustainability staffing, EHS budgets, Sustainability budgets, corporate sustainability staffing, Leading corporate sustainability programs, structuring and staffing sustainability.