Discover the sustainability roles you didn’t know about

A job is about more than just a salary. Now more than ever, people want to feel like their work matters and that they’re making a difference to the world.  

One increasingly popular way in which you can make a difference through your job is through sustainability. In fact, our recent Sustainability Insights survey shows that 66% of people believe a company’s commitments in this area are important when applying for a job.  

Job applicants judge an employer on vision, behavior and implementation of sustainability. In fact, a sustainable policy in the broadest sense is a necessity today; from climate targets to a diverse workforce. 

Joost Fortuin, Senior Managing Director PageGroup The Netherlands 

This shift in mindset is why sustainability jobs have grown in popularity. A lot of these are ESG roles (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance). The goals here are to help companies reduce their environmental impact, promote sustainability and create positive social change.  

If this is something you’re passionate about, you might be interested in knowing about the different types of ESG jobs that are out there. We’ve listed some below, with a specific link to some of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations.  

What are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals? 

A quick bit of background before we start though. The 17 SDGs are a series of objectives that the UN regards as the blueprint for a better and more sustainable world. They range from eliminating hunger to promoting gender equality, to producing cleaner energy. 

Interestingly,  when we asked our survey respondents which goals they cared about most, there was a wide range of answers. However, the top three were: 

  • Good health and well-being (34%) 
  • Responsible consumption and production (32%) 
  • Clean water and energy (32%) 

But to achieve any of the goals, people working in ESG roles will need to play a big part. These are also known as “Goalkeepers” — people who are taking action to help achieve Sustainable Development Goals. Being a Goalkeeper gives you purpose and has a genuinely positive impact on the world.  

So, are you keen to find out how you can contribute towards some of the 17 SDG goals? Below, we’ve listed some of the goals, along with examples of ESG roles that can have an impact on them. Have a read and see if any of these spark an interest! 

ESG roles that make a difference 

ESG roles

No Poverty 

This goal is around ending poverty — in all forms — all around the world. It’s regarded as the greatest global challenge, with the UN predicting over 600 million people will be living in poverty by 2030.  

If this is something you’re especially passionate about, you might be interested in one of these jobs: 

  • Programme Officer: They work with communities, governments, and other stakeholders to design, implement and manage programs that address poverty. 
  • Financial Inclusion Officer: Responsible for increasing access to finance and banking services in vulnerable communities. 
  • Microfinance Officer: They help provide small loans to low-income entrepreneurs so they can start and grow businesses. 

Zero Hunger 

This SDG goal is aimed at ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture.  

Some of the roles where you can make a difference to this include: 

  • Food technologists: They work on improving the safety, quality and nutritional value of food. They do this by using scientific knowledge to develop new, innovative ways to grow and produce food. 
  • Food-waste supermarket manager: They work to reduce food waste by implementing strategies such as food recovery, composting and recycling.  

Good Health and Wellbeing 

The UN defines this as ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages. As mentioned above, our Sustainability Insights survey saw this come up as the most important goal for many people. Some of the jobs which they could take up are: 

  • Biomedical Engineer: In this role, you would help develop medical and health-related equipment and systems to improve patient care and treatments. 
  • Environmental Health Officer: This job involves analysing the environmental factors that could cause harm to people’s health and ways people in the community can be protected.  

Quality Education 

The aim here is to ensure inclusive, equitable and quality education for all. It’s regarded as a key step in reducing inequality, increasing socioeconomic mobility and helping people escape poverty.   

A couple of ESG jobs related to this are: 

  • Educational Technology Specialist: In this role, you’d train teachers in the use of technology that facilitates learning, such as online courses or interactive software. 
  • Education Advocate: An Education Advocate works to ensure that everyone has access to quality educational opportunities, particularly those from underprivileged communities 

Gender Equality 

Our Sustainability Insights survey revealed that women face gender discrimination at work at more than 3 times the rate of men, showing how much work there still is to do to meet this goal. It was also the second most reported reason for discrimination, behind age. 

If this is an area you want to make a difference in, check out these potential avenues: 

  • Gender Mainstreaming Officer: Integrating gender analysis into all aspects of a business to ensure that policies and practices are gender-sensitive. 
  • Diversity and Inclusion Manager: Help businesses create safe and inclusive environments that promote diversity amongst employees. 

Clean Water and Sanitation

Almost a third (32%) of our survey respondents said this goal — ensuring availability and sustainable water and sanitation for all — was the one they cared about most. Jobs relating to this goal include: 

  • Water Resource Management Engineer: They implement sustainable water management systems to conserve and distribute clean water. 
  • Sanitation Engineer: They put in place systems that safely collect, treat and dispose of waste and sewage. 
  • Watershed Manager: Responsible for managing and protecting the land and water resources within a specific watershed. This ensures clean and ample water supply. 

Affordable and Clean Energy 

This SDG  is about ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for everyone. You may have heard a lot about this topic in recent months, in light of the political and economic climate, however it’s been an important objective for a lot longer than that. This will continue to be the case — based on current trends, the UN thinks 679 million people will still be without electricity in the year 2030. 

If this is something you’re keen to help with, you could check out one of the following types of ESG roles. 

  • Energy Storage System Engineer: Create energy storage systems, such as batteries and fuel cells, to store and distribute renewable energy. 
  • Smart Grid Engineer: Design and develop renewable electrical grid systems that can improve efficiency. 
  • Carbon Capture and Storage Engineer: Implements technologies for capturing carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes, and storing them underground to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Responsible Consumption and Production 

Unsustainable patterns of consumption and production are regarded as the root cause for climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. It’s therefore no surprise that this was the third most important of the 17 SDGs for our survey respondents.  

If you have a similar viewpoint, you might be interested in jobs like: 

  • Clean Production Specialist: Assisting businesses in identifying processes that minimise negative impacts on the environment. 
  • Sustainable Procurement Specialist: Develops and implements policies to ensure that the business purchases goods and services in a way that’s environmentally and socially responsible. 
  • Product Stewardship Coordinator: Managing the environmental and health risks associated with a company's products — throughout the entire lifecycle 

Climate Action 

It’s probably unsurprising that this is one of the UN’s major SDGs — the causes and impact of climate change have been well established over the years. But what jobs can you take that will make a difference to combating this? 

  • Carbon Offset Project Developer: Focused on projects that reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions, in order to offset emissions from other sources. Examples include reforestation or renewable energy projects. 
  • Energy Efficiency Consultant: Identifying and implementing cost-effective ways for businesses to reduce their energy consumption. 
  • Climate-smart Agriculture Advisor: Helping farmers and agricultural companies to adapt their practices in response to changing climate conditions. 

The key takeaway 

These are just some of the routes to working in a job that can quite literally have a life-changing impact.  

To find out more about all of the UN’s 17 SDG goals, you can check out their website. Here at Michael Page, we match people across the globe with the right ESG roles for them, so feel free to take a look at the opportunities we have.   

It’s always worth thinking about the causes you’re passionate about and working forward from there. Nowadays there are plenty of opportunities to join companies that can align with your personal values, particularly around sustainability. By doing your research on both the industry and the company — you can become a Goalkeeper, and ensure that your values and career are on the same page! 


What is the full potential of Sustainable Development Goals? Discover the sustainability roles you didn’t know about. 

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