Real talk about salaries, gender and race in green jobs
Play • 8 min

John Davies of GreenBiz shares his latest findings on compensation, pay equity and how you can increase your value — and your salary. 

1. How does my role impact the salary I earn?

Managers in sustainability careers make anywhere from $50,000 to $280,000 a year. The longer you’ve been at your job, the more you make. But what are the other factors?

  • Your responsibilities, particularly the number of people and projects you manage, have an outsized impact on salary. 
  • Already working in sustainability but wishing for a bigger paycheck? When people switch organizations, they often do so for a raise. (But don’t overlook your ability to use a job offer to negotiate for better pay where you already work.) 
  • When it comes to compensation, most master’s degrees don’t seem to make much of a difference. But in corporate sustainability jobs, having an MBA could. About a third of managers, directors and vice presidents have MBAs. 

2.  How diverse are green jobs? How does diversity relate to compensation? 

  • The number of women in sustainability leadership roles has increased close to 20 percentage points in every category since 2010.
  • Corporate sustainability jobs have almost achieved gender pay equity. On average, women make a few thousand dollars less than their male counterparts. 
  • Increasingly, companies are hiring from outside, not simply promoting from within. This gives organizations access to more people. For organizations that are intentional about it, access to a wider pool of candidates can increase diversity. 
  • But the profession has a long way to go. When it comes to racial diversity, the numbers are stark: 77 percent of managers identify as white or Caucasian. 
  • To help solve this problem, GreenBiz is launching Greenbiz.org. It’s a nonprofit designed to bring more BIPOC candidates into the profession. 

3. A listener asks: “Having a passion for sustainability used to be a unique quality that would get you over that edge for a job, but that’s not so true anymore. How do I show my unique value?” John’s advice:

  • Don’t wait for a sustainability job title to take action. Work within your current role to bring sustainability to your workplace.
  • Identify your organization’s sustainability “problem areas.” What are your ideas for solving them?  Where can you improve circularity? Share your strategies with management and get to work where you are. 
  • Then, when you are ready to switch organizations, you’ll be able to show off your real-work outcomes.  

Learn more:

Stay up-to-date with the latest news in sustainability and business with GreenBiz:

Visit our Green Jobs Hub for job-hunting resources and listings and more links to information about salary and diversity in green careers. 

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