Clarity is key, says IEMA CEO

6th June 2014

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Christopher Fletcher

In his latest blog, IEMA's chief executive Tim Balcon has announced a forthcoming review of the Institute's membership levels.

Balcon discusses the need for businesses worldwide to be able to recognise, understand and engage with what the IEMA membership ladder represents. He explains that the language currently used by IEMA to name and describe each membership level does not fully resonate with global organisations. Balcon reveals that IEMA will launch a member and employer consultation later in 2014 to develop an improved membership structure, which provides greater clarity and a better understood lexicon. The full blog is:

"The business world is now looking at our profession differently. At the same time our profession is changing; IEMA’s recent acquisition of the Global Association of Corporate Sustainability Officers (GACSO) is evidence of how the environment is absolutely not a one-dimensional profession.

With their eyes on matters of ethical supply chains, human rights and conservation issues, GACSO members and others joining us are bringing new conversations to the IEMA table.

Of course the core elements of our day-to-day work – implementing environment management systems, compliance issues, maximising efficiencies – are all still invaluable to modern business, yet our profession is clearly expanding to become something much more holistic. While the world around us is waking up to the existing and emerging challenges, what we must do is be more open about our profession.

Being open doesn’t just mean demonstrating what someone in an environment or sustainability role does all day, or even what they achieve. It also means ensuring businesses and employers can understand, engage and be enthused about our unique profession. Using unnecessary jargon or exclusive terminology won’t do us any favours in the long term. Being more transparent about what we mean, what we do and what we call ourselves will, however, pay huge dividends.

With that concept in mind, IEMA is reviewing the professional structures it – as your professional body – has in place to ensure they remain fit for purpose. In 2014 and beyond, what does “Associate” or “Full” member really mean to employers? Anything? Everything? We just don’t know, and I think it’s time to take a step back and assess whether the membership ladder that was established when IEMA was formed in 1999 is still valuable.

To be on the front foot on this we are starting to review our membership structure, mapping it against a changing economy, shifting policies and the skills our members have. Doing this ensures that our professional hierarchy is something that businesses worldwide can identify with. Personally I feel our membership structure – at least the names our membership levels have – needs to be simpler and more engaging. You may think differently, so this is an issue on which I need member-input. By the end of 2014 we will have met, surveyed and consulted with members across the globe to try to achieve some consensus on how our membership can be redefined to give you the recognition and profile you deserve, while offering something that is meaningful, useful, understandable and attractive to employers.

Perception is reality so let’s work together to ensure that the business community better understands our profession. Getting the words right
seems like a good place to start."
The blog is available here. The consultation on IEMA’s membership will start in the autumn and all members will be invited to participate in the weeks ahead.

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