Optimistic About Business Prospects, the Ranks of Sustainability Consultants Swell

As Market Matures, Industry and Functional Specialization to Become More Important

New York City (March 13, 2012) – Green Research, the New York-based corporate sustainability research and advisory firm, today released a new report featuring the results of the world’s first global study of consultants working in sustainability and corporate social responsibility. The study was conducted via an online survey fielded with the support of media partners globally. The survey drew 1548 responses from six continents and 69 countries. The report, “Global Sustainability Consultant Survey, 2012,” finds sustainability consultants optimistic about their business prospects. Forty-nine percent of consultants surveyed say business conditions are somewhat or very strong today and 62 percent expect a strong business environment six months from now. “Sustainability consultants are generally upbeat about business conditions,” said David Schatsky, principal analyst at Green Research and author of the report. “Consultants working in Asia-Pacific countries are the most upbeat of all. But challenges loom as well.”

The study found that many professionals have been drawn to the sustainability consulting field in recent years. The data reveal that 40 percent of the consultants entered the field less than three years ago. According to the report, a combination of factors has contributed to the influx of professionals to the field. These include the dislocations caused by the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recessions, which prompted some professionals to become independent consultants, and growing awareness of sustainability challenges and interest in helping to solve them.  Of course, the field has well established firms and highly experienced consultants as well. Forty percent of sustainability consultants have been working in the field for at least 5 years; about half of those claim 10 years’ experience.

The report suggests that the influx of new consultants may be putting downward pressure on consulting incomes. Among US-based consultants, the median annual income is $70,000. Three-quarters of consultants earn $97,500 or less annually but incomes as high as $310,000 were reported. In the US the incomes of sustainability consultants are comparable to the salaries reported in 2010 by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for management or operations research analysts.

The report also examined the industries, business areas, and technical areas consultants were most active in over the prior year. More consultants worked in manufacturing than any other sector. Strategy and planning projects were more common than projects focusing on specific business or operational areas such as supply chain or facilities. Green Research believes that as the field matures, consultants will need to couple strategy expertise with expert industry and functional knowledge.

The research is now available for download at greenresearch.com. For more information, please contact David Schatsky at +1 646-783-8337 or info@greenresearch.com.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Optimistic About Business Prospects, the Ranks of Sustainability Consultants Swell

  1. Thanks, Good work …
    All The Best ! Keep it up !

  2. The future has to be made to lie in Sustainability & sustainable development and that is huge prospects and great future for Sustainability consultants / professionals …

    That is the conscious choice / decision we, the intelligent and wise have to make to let the destiny be shaped by choice and not by chance on a cause – effect or reactive mode to protect the planet earth …

    And, we have to take the destine in our hands …

    Long live our only planet -Earth !

  3. Many thanks for your interesting survey, which I was happy to take part in.
    It’s especially valuable to feel part of a global community that shares my enthusiasm for the job and many of the same daily headaches. Hence some of the most interesting parts of the survey are the sense of business conditions (current and future), main areas of activity and biggest problems encountered (I just love the #1 complaint being “client doesn’t have budget” – so true).
    With such a strong representation from the US, however, I’d be especially interested in seeing breakdowns by region: I guess consulting in the US is vastly different to continental Europe. It would be useful to see if some of the main trends are common to us all or whether there are significant regional variations.
    James.

    • David Schatsky

      Thanks, James. Of the questions we asked, which would be most interesting for you to see for Europe?

      • Hi David. If I have to pick, (referring to the charts your PDF summary of the findings) the most interesting areas would be Figures 6 (focus of consulting activities), 10 (earnings) and 14 (challenges). Thanks!

  4. Quest of Experts and their expertise , how much the responses changes with the change of time ..the off records after all it’s just a mere word of mouth or accountability . It’s good to know a quantified surveyed wide response , the basics curriculum vitae as Consultants . Outsourcing as no more a constraint it’s widely seen their impact on the production economy , the resource rich tangibles an another subject to discuss if we aren’t missing it’s visibility . Thank you David for highlighting such a innovative topic of discussion

  5. Oshaniwa Toyin

    Great and inspiring work, a strategic analytical tool for sustainability professional

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