GreenBiz Salary Survey Takes a First-Ever Look Inside the World of CSOs

OAKLAND, CA — Sustainability is obviously big business, but until now, there has been very little discussion of what the job looks like on the ground.

But a new report published by the GreenBiz Group takes a first-ever close look at how sustainability professions spend their time.

Based on a survey of more than 500 sustainability professionals in the GreenBiz Intelligence Panel, the first GreenBiz Salary Survey was released this morning at the Green Biz Innovation Forum, and shows that sustainability executives by and large are well paid, enjoy high job satisfaction and an optimistic outlook.

"Ten years ago, the formal role of the sustainability professional didn't exist," said John Davies, GreenBiz Group vice president and senior analyst. "Today, environmental and corporate responsibility executives are taking on a more significant role in the corporate landscape -- helping to do more good within their companies while also making a positive impact on their companies' bottom lines. The results of the Salary Report demonstrate the growing interest in sustainability-focused positions, as well as the significant job opportunities that exist within this segment."

Among the interesting trends detailed in the GreenBiz Salary report:

Hiring freezes continue to thaw: Large companies reported increasing headcount for environmental and sustainability roles. In early 2009, 27 percent of large companies reported hiring freezes and only 8 percent planned to increase headcount for environmental departments. Today, only 11 percent report hiring freezes and over 28 percent plan to increase headcount, a major swing. This also represents a significant increase from just six months ago, when 23 percent of the large firms planned to increase headcount.

Sustainability executives are satisfied and optimistic: Job satisfaction is high for those working in sustainability, and optimism that sustainability will be valued by their employers throughout the next five years is felt by more than eighty percent of our survey respondents.

Compensation is strong: Sustainability executives are compensated at salaries comparable to those of their peers, at least in companies with revenues greater than $1 billion. Vice presidents of sustainability earn an average of $192,064, whereas directors of sustainability earn an average of $160,320 and sustainability managers earn an average of $103,197.

Execs are smart: Sustainability executives tend to be well educated, as 65 percent of vice presidents, 57 percent of directors, and 58 percent of managers have master's degrees. Managers with master's degrees earned almost twenty percent more than those with bachelor's degrees.

The full GreenBiz Salary Report is available free of charge.