The bleak labor market facing finance professionals may create an unexpected opportunity — for environmental sustainability efforts.
One casualty of the financial crisis and subsequent global economic downturn has been employment in the financial sector. In the United States alone, finance employment fell by 233,000 jobs in 2008 — and more than half of that decline in employment took place in the last four months of 2008. Unfortunately, the worst may not be over: London’s financial sector, for example, is expected to shed nine percent of its jobs in 2009, by one estimate. What will become of all the skilled professionals losing jobs in finance?
One domain where financial acumen may fruitfully be applied is, perhaps surprisingly, environmental sustainability. Addressing environmental sustainability has traditionally been understood as necessitating a trade-off with economic benefits such as growth and prosperity. Over the last few years, however, this mindset has started to shift, as more and more managers have come to realize that economics can provide a way to address — and profit from — the sustainability challenges that beset human society. Companies have begun positioning themselves to capitalize upon a world where environmental and social constraints will inevitably cause dramatic shifts in how businesses are run.