Probably not, argues Hark’s Jordan Appleson, but that doesn’t mean UK workers won’t be professionally involved in improving sustainability in years to come (if not already!).


e often hear about improving energy efficiency or tackling the climate crisis for ‘the benefit of our grandchildren’. But when it comes to much younger generations, or generations which haven’t even arrived yet – what will they be doing to contribute to a greener, more sustainable world when they enter the world of work?

Whilst the true answer lies decades away, we’re starting to see some interesting shifts in the way businesses are set up to be more sustainable, which could give us a clue as to the shape of ESG in the future.

The rise of the Chief Sustainability Officer?

It’s no secret that businesses have begun developing their managerial structures to allow for a greater focus on sustainability – a report from Weinreb Group in 2020 stated that Fortune 500 companies hired more Chief Sustainability Officers in that year than the previous three combined, with demand up by 228% for the role.

A more up-to-date litmus test (which is by no means as accurate) shows some 11,000 roles on LinkedIn with the word ‘sustainability’ in their title in the UK alone. It won’t be surprising that the vast majority of these roles aren’t in the C-suite.

And nor should they be.

We work with some of the leading names across retail, energy and manufacturing – in particular to improve their energy consumption measurement and efficiency of legacy assets – which means we’ve seen first-hand how sustainability and energy efficiency features in the workloads of a multitude of stakeholders.

A varied approach

When looking at a recent manufacturing project, part of our remit included us helping a Finance Director encourage factory employees to make sustainability a bigger part of their day-to-day.

In the Nuclear space, we have worked alongside Lead Architects and Digital Transformation Project Leaders who have various objectives such as reducing excess energy and utility bills and also tracking and tracing complex assets and systems on enormous sites.

It’s clear there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to becoming more sustainable – improvements can be made across pretty much all areas of business, and therefore should reach all areas of the workforce.

Whose responsibility is it?

Ultimately, successful businesses will handle sustainability in a similar vein to how forward-thinking businesses have approached digitisation.

Yes, there may be ‘Heads of Digital’ in the way we’re seeing ‘Heads of Sustainability’, but these people aren’t the difference between being a digital or sustainable business or not. Ultimately, they help guide the introduction of new technologies, processes and cultures across the estate.

Most important is taking all employees on the sustainability journey together, so they have (at the very least) a strong awareness of how their work impacts energy efficiency.

It’s easier to make this step than you might think – it might be as simple as connecting up and getting visibility across energy consuming assets for an estate, giving almost instant clarity on where efficiencies can and should be made.