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|Sustainable Supply Chain - Promising Green Job Opportunities
Social responsibility and environmental stewardship is becoming a major focus for large and small companies throughout the U.S. and the world. Consumers are demanding safe and ethically-sourced goods, government is escalating regulation of carbon emissions and waste management, and competition among manufacturers and retailers requires that innovative sustainability policies be developed, and fast.
High interest in the Wal-Mart Sustainability Index is an indicator of how hot this issue has become. As supply chain expert Herb Shumway states:
“Customers, regulators, NGOs, and, in many cases, investors are raising the bar on environmentally sustainable business practices. This trend will create substantial opportunities for supply chain leaders who understand how to apply the principles of systems thinking and lean operations to reducing carbon footprints, energy consumption and waste throughout the value chain, while maintaining high standards of performance in traditional operational metrics.”
The supply chain, with its broad scope and long reach, provides an ideal platform for improving economic as well as social and environmental performance for both product- and service-based organizations. Green career opportunities in this field are growing, as companies become aware that sustainable procurement and supply chain management can be an asset in their overall business strategy.
In a recent survey of 95 global procurement specialists, EcoVadis discovered that a high percentage of European firms consider their sustainability and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives a high priority. Some key findings:
- Investment in sustainable procurement will continue to increase despite the pressures of an economic downturn
- CSR is now a major factor for procurement professionals in the sourcing of materials, transportation and IT services
- A majority of the surveyed companies are measuring supplier performance using sustainable procurement criteria
- Compliance with environmental regulations is increasingly important in the procurement process
Where Are the Jobs?
Although sustainable supply chain strategies are relevant to most industries, major job growth is expected in both traditional and new energy sectors as well as retail, transportation and IT management. Some examples of supply-chain job roles:
- Industrial engineer
- Logistics specialist
- Sales analyst
- Transport manager
- Warehouse specialist
- Energy efficiency consultant
Corporate Social Responsibility
- Sustainability officer
- Community relations officer
- Compliance officer
- Standards developer
- Environmental auditor
- Recycling manager
Legislation & Government Regulation
- Legal analyst
- Government liaison
- Industry association representative
Additional areas of optimism for job creation include:
- Renewables/HVAC: Photovoltaics, wind, solar thermal and other renewable-energy technologies
- Retail Grocery, food & beverage purchasing
- School and public facilities procurement
- Energy & water efficiency, environmental auditing
- IT services: software design, cloud computing, RIFD technology, communication & collaboration
- Warehousing, distribution and inventory management
- Logistics and transportation; hybrid vehicle technology; green fuels
- Industrial engineering & design
- Farms and factories: energy efficiency, emissions, health & safety standards
- Product design, packaging, paper design, graphic design
- Facilities planning, design and construction of new buildings
- Materials sourcing and labeling, ‘chain of custody', fair trade supplier management
- Recycling, waste management, hazardous waste disposal, repurposing of recycled materials
- Local sourcing, outsourcing and ‘resourcing’ (bringing jobs back from overseas)
- Project management
- Risk management and insurance
- Government regulation, incentives and sustainability strategies, sustainability metrics, performance criteria development and monitoring
How can you prepare to become a link in the sustainable supply chain?
- Research companies that are thought leaders in the world of sustainable procurement and supply chain strategies, such as Wal-Mart, Dell, IBM, Kraft Foods, BP. Also investigate local businesses in your area: how do their supply chains work? How do they handle materials inflow, outflow, recycling?
- Learn about the major issues and pathways to a more sustainable supply chain. Some resources:
Plug in to the network of sustainable supply chain expertise here on Job-hunt: Green Industry Job Resources page and Green Industry Associations; also via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
The sustainable supply chain offers the potential to morph your existing skills and expertise into a promising new milieu. Whether you started out in basic science, management, sales and marketing or trucking, explore this broad-reaching discipline for ideas as you craft new career opportunities. As Louis Pasteur once said: “Fortune favors the prepared mind.”
© Copyright, 2009, Kathleen Lyons. Job-Hunt's Green Jobs Job Search expert, Kathleen Lyons, is a workforce training and performance support specialist, and the publisher and editor of Green Job Idea Blog. She believes that the emerging green economy offers huge opportunities for both white- and blue-collar job seekers to find satisfying and meaningful work. Kathleen holds membership in the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), Co-op America, The International EcoTourism Club and the Cape & Islands Renewable Energy Collaborative.
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