Chief Sustainability Officer Salary

by Eric Strauss

Green jobs are all the rage, and modern companies are now focused on sustainability as a way to save the planet -- and valuable dollars. GreenBiz surveyed 536 executives, looking at sustainability salaries and jobs, and found that companies are increasing their emphasis on the environment as a part of doing business. It also found that a company's chief sustainability officer's salary depended, at least in part, on his role within the company.

Vice Presidents

Out of companies in the GreenBiz survey, 38 percent employed their chief sustainability officer at the vice president or senior vice president level. GreenBiz reported that vice presidents in charge of sustainability earn an average of $218,409 as of summer 2011. The top quarter earned more than $250,000 a year, and the highest salaries exceeded $400,000 annually. In addition, 93 percent of vice presidents received a bonus on top of their pay. At this level, 88 percent of executives had at least 16 years on the job.


Right behind vice presidents are directors or senior directors, with 34 percent of the companies in the GreenBiz survey employing their chief sustainability officer at those levels. These directors earn an average of $161,510 per year, according to the survey, with the top 17 percent cracking the $200,000-per-year barrier and the best salaries reaching the $400,000 range. As a plus, 91 percent of these directors earned a bonus in addition to their annual pay.


Finally, 14 percent of the companies in the GreenBiz survey employed a chief sustainability officer at the manager or senior manager level. These leaders earned an average salary of $105,345 a year, according to the survey. Although pay could reach the $250,000 range, only 74 percent of these managers reported receiving a bonus.

Gender Gap

One note in the GreenBiz survey was that gender made a noticeable difference in chief sustainability officers' pay. For instance, among vice presidents, men earned 11 percent more than women, $231,731 compared with $206,316. Among director-level executives, the gap was even wider at 20 percent. Male directors earned $172,903 on average, while female directors earned $144,186 on average. However, on the managerial level, the $109,135 to $103,351 spread shrank to less than $1,000 a year on average if one outlying male salary was removed from the survey.

About the Author

Eric Strauss spent 12 years as a newspaper copy editor, eventually serving as a deputy business editor at "The Star-Ledger" in New Jersey before transitioning into academic communications. His byline has appeared in several newspapers and websites. Strauss holds a B.A. in creative writing/professional writing and recently earned an M.A. in English literature.

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