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My previous coverage on the topic of ‘green jobs’ has looked mainly at the struggle to define the green economy from a jobs taxonomy perspective in Australia and I feel an update is required!

At Turning Green we see sustainability touching most business functions.  There are opportunities everywhere but a good sustainability practitioner recognises …

“You Have to Do It Yourself; You Can’t Do It Alone” One of the Seven Paradoxes of Sustainability Practitioners From: Sustainability Champions Guidebook Bob Willard.

You’ll have to read the book to hear about the other six but we think that this sums things up quite nicely.

True sustainability must be integrated into all operations of business, and a truly sustainable business is created when all employees are aware of how their roles contribute to the sustainability agenda.

While sustainability needs to be driven from the top, it’s not just the job of a single staff member or department – it involves everyone and should be linked to the broad strategic objectives of the business. It is a coordinated process that requires the development of a sustainability strategy strongly aligned to the business plan that can be easily implemented.   
A good Sustainability Practitioner will be able to quickly assimilate the business situation, understand their operating environment and create a strategy that will engage the whole organisation for competitive advantage.  They will then use a number of tools as they enter into the implementation phase depending on their focus:

Eco-Efficiency – dematerialisation, energy, water, waste, carbon management
Eco-Effectiveness – supply chain & purchasing, green buildings and fleets, renewables, life cycle analysis, ESD, products to services
Sustainability Systems – integrated, materiality and assured reporting, standards and certification, metrics, financial and risk performance
Sustainable Consumption – transparency, green marketing, sustainable branding, Social Responsibility – fair operating practices, Human Rights, Community Consultation, Workplace Giving, ESG

How their career evolves will depend on all these factors and the experience gleaned in the process, plus of course, the success of their programs.  For want of a better phase, what get’s measured gets managed and this is critical if their programs are to be recognised through awards or other means which of course feeds into their profile.
Finally – what does this sustainability practitioner ‘look’ like?  What characteristics do they posses to make them a success?  We think RepublicOfEveryone encapsulate this perfectly in their HeroHandBook and we LOVE it for its simplicity and relevance.  
“A hero is someone who solves the problems that are too big for the rest of us” – the anatomy of a hero includes:
1. Sign in the sky so everyone knows you’re in town
2. Speech bubble for memorable catchcry
3. Eye’s – x-ray vision – sees things that others don’t
4. Mind – clear and focused
5. Heart – determined to be good
6. Jaw – steely in the face of criticism
7. Logo – makes you easy to recognise
8. Belt – so you’re never caught with your pants down
9. Boots – to walk the talk
Elements of this such as ‘logo’ and ‘sign in the sky’ obviously apply more to organisational brand than individuals, however at Turning Green we work with candidates to focus on their own personal brand, and their name and values become synonymos with their career achievements and credibility.  Thus they become heros as do the brands they represent.

Finally, we find one of the best source of updates for mover and shaker activity is the Fifth Estate.  Similar to their counterparts around the world, many of our active sustainability practitioners in Australia go beyond their day jobs to work with non-profit boards and serve local government, while still holding down their day job. 

Others shake things up by launching new ventures or promoting a cutting-edge sustainability initiative as we have recently seen with Ché Wall, who has embarked on a new business venture, setting up a sustainable consulting business with long term colleague Matthew Jessup – and Siobhan Toohill, who left Stockland to set up Pure and Applied, a people-centred design studio focused on sustainability, placemaking, service design and digital strategy.

We live in very dynamic times, and the kind of leader that thrives in this new world has the humility to admit that the challenges are just too big to do it alone and will collaborate to get on with the ‘bigger picture’.  They build trust through ethical action and run a principled business.