Clarity is Key

In a post-IPCC report world, business is 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 matters 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 EMSs, 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 and 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 long-term favours. Being more transparent about what we mean, what we do and what we call ourselves will pay huge dividends. I think with that concept in mind, we are directed towards reviewing the professional structures we – 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 born in 1999 is still valuable.

To be on the front foot on this we are starting to review our professional 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 memberships have – needs to be simpler and more engaging. You may think differently so this is an issue on which I need member-input. So by the end of 2014 we will have met with, surveyed and consulted with members across the globe to try and 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 business better understands our profession. Getting the words right seems like a good place to start.

Tim Balcon

CEO, IEMA