How much does a Head of Sustainability earn? 

Share this blog post

Our aim when researching and producing the Environment and Sustainability Remuneration Report was to fill a gap in the market that we found to exist around robust remuneration data. Over the coming months we will be profiling each role contained within the report and you can read the full Executive Summary here. To enable us to produce the report we collected information from over 200 companies with 412 distinct data sets provided across eight different roles . This data has come from a variety of industries and locations, across both Australia and New Zealand.

Chart by Visualizer

Remuneration for a Head of Sustainability For a Head of Sustainability, the survey showed that the average Total Remuneration (TR) paid at this level across Australia was $314,159 , made up of an average Total Fixed Remuneration (TFR) of $253,890 and an average Short Term Incentive (STI) of 21% paid out of a possible 29.8%. Long Term Incentives were only offered to a small number of respondents surveyed at this level; however those offered were significant in value.

Head of Sustainability – Gender All other roles surveyed in the Sustainability sector had a higher ratio of females to males however the Head of Sustainability position was held by more males than females. The top 3 salaries at this level among those surveyed were female and, across all roles females are remunerated 2.3% higher than their male counterparts.

Head of Sustainability – Location and Sector With most major Head Office’s located in Sydney, salaries for Heads of Sustainability are significantly higher in New South Wales than in Victoria. At the top of the salary packages are those working in Mining and Metals, with Industrials and Materials the bottom of the range with below average remuneration.

Head of Sustainability – ASX vs Non ASX Listed ASX listed entities remunerate at a significantly higher level (+12%) than private or non-listed entities.

What does this mean? Even during times of COVID we are finding that the demand for highly skilled Heads of Sustainability is unwavering. Everyone was caught unaware with the outbreak of the pandemic however with the advent of Modern Slavery Legislation in Australia, and an increased focus from investors on Climate risk, there is no excuse for being unprepared in these areas. The role of the Head of Sustainability has clearly evolved over the last decade with these individuals now accountable for sizable teams, budgets and with a direct line to the Executive and boardroom.

What does a Head of Sustainability do? The Head of Sustainability is responsible for Sustainability Strategy, Risk, Governance, and Reporting, engaging at Board and C-level, as well as across the organisation, to ensure sustainability leadership and alignment of these areas to the overarching business strategy and direction

Required skills and experience

  • A university degree or equivalent is essential with post graduate studies desirable.
  • 10+ years of experience in a professional sustainability environment.
  • Progressive experience in Sustainability leadership roles.
  • Extensive knowledge of sustainability performance measures, global practices, and emerging issues.
  • Engagement with the investment community including ESG analysts, fund managers and institutional investors.
  • Management & leadership experience.
  • Ability to build personal and organisational credibility and build beneficial internal and external relationships


Beyond the Resume

To attract and retain a Head of Sustainability that can deliver the right outcome for your organisation you need to understand where you are in your journey. With increased scrutiny from government, investors, and employees you cannot pay lip service to these roles. The intensity of these roles has increased over the years; but fortunately, so has the capability of the individuals that are in them. The area is evolving rapidly so how do you know who is capable, and who is not?

It is still an emerging area and as the only recruitment firm to specialise in this area across Australia and New Zealand; we have the connections, and experience, to know what to look for so that the candidate you hire is the right person for your organisation. The best and most reliable way to hire the talent you need is through a robust and high-quality network. A referral from a trusted source within your network is going to carry more weight than a myriad of qualifications and the most impressive work experience on paper.

Through our years of experience of placing people into these roles, the very best Heads of Sustainability are those that have a deep understanding of the interconnections between business and sustainability. People like this often aren’t actively searching for roles, but given the right opportunity at a company that fits, can be motivated to move (if the conditions are right). Talent Nation has been at the forefront of the Sustainability industry for 10 years.

As Australia’s only specialist Environment & Sustainability recruitment agency, we have are passionate about connecting purpose-driven people with purpose roles and companies within Australia and New Zealand. This article provides information of a general nature across a number of sectors, however we are more than happy to give more specific advice relevant to individual or company circumstances. For a detailed discussion on how we can help, contact us on 03 9600 0115.

More blogs

South Australia’s reputation as the solar hub of Australia is growing after the state government approved construction of a solar thermal power plant near Port Augusta.

An Australian-first biofuel demonstration facility in the New South Wales Hunter Valley has been touted as a game-changer in the food versus

The “world’s largest” lithium-ion battery has been officially opened in South Australia. Tesla’s much-anticipated “mega battery” made the “100 days or it’s free”