Rising Sustainability Leadership Among Indiana Manufacturers – Inside the INdiana Business

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One way to understand what the industry values ​​is to look at hiring trends. In Indiana’s advanced manufacturing industry, this approach may indicate that sustainability leadership is becoming more valuable. Over the past five years, the number of sustainability-related jobs in Indiana has risen steadily, with manufacturers posting more sustainability positions than any other industry sector.

In addition, 4 in 10 manufacturing and logistics companies in Indiana now view sustainability as an important attribute for winning new orders from key customers, according to recent research by Conexus Indiana and the IU Kelley School of Business Center for Excellence in Manufacturing. While sustainability has not yet been considered a primary driver of new business for most companies in Indiana, hiring trends at the local and national levels paint a different picture.

Often defined as a balance of environmental, economic, and social factors, sustainability has been a focus in corporate America for decades. Its rise in popularity has led companies to invest in sustainability strategies and hire leaders to carry out these efforts. In developments that mirror the rise of the Chief Information Officer in the late 1980s and 1990s, many Fortune 100 and 500 companies have now added Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs) to their executive leadership teams (a 2024 reconnaissance by The Weinreb Group that the status of CSOs has grown by 228% in 10 years). Hundreds, if not thousands of companies have also appointed vice presidents, directors, and sustainability directors.

These modern corporate leaders are tasked with developing a vision for sustainability and implementing programs to achieve those goals. They also have more concrete responsibilities, including ensuring their company complies with sustainability reporting and disclosure requirements (particularly for publicly traded companies), communicating sustainable practices to customers and supply chain partners and making sustainability a profitable proposition rather than a cost of doing business.

In Indiana, these professionals are sought after in the manufacturing sector more than anywhere else, according to 2024 Lightcast Labor Market Analytics data. Manufacturers accounted for 22.5% of all declared sustainability positions, with most of these positions listed as sustainability manager, sustainability manager, sustainability specialist, and manager sustainability programmes.

In manufacturing and logistics specifically, you might see these employees involved in reducing water use, minimizing waste from industrial processes, conducting product life cycle assessments, implementing energy management systems or deploying a fleet of electric delivery vehicles.

While adding new jobs increases costs, companies view these costs as an investment that is expected to yield a return. A growing body of research continues to show how these financial returns can be achieved: through lower energy costs, efficient and low-emissions supply chains, increased customer sales, the use of next-generation materials for product innovation and more. In addition, its annual surveys open A resounding opportunity for companies to attract and retain young talent who are increasingly interested in being hired by companies that prioritize sustainability.

These benefits reach far beyond the four walls of the company. When manufacturing and logistics companies in Indiana hire sustainability teams and leaders, the companies will be better equipped to outperform their counterparts in other states; Thus, creating more jobs for Indiana workers and making Indiana a better place to live.

As large companies continue to prioritize sustainability roles in their hiring practices, it is likely that Indiana’s supplier base (particularly small and medium-sized companies) will be expected to meet these criteria. If there’s one lesson to be drawn from the current situation: Sustainability can be a catalyst for innovation and company growth, not an added cost. But like any new business strategy, realizing its potential requires a responsible leader and a committed team of professionals.