Business Case
Chicken and Egg:
Business Must Embrace the Need for Sustainability Know-How

Professionals who received their education over 10 years ago — and who haven’t upgraded to be able to understand the implications and complexity of sustainability trends, risks and opportunities — may be putting their organizations at risk.

The world is a very different place for those who graduated in 2010 or earlier: Climate change, increasing scarcity of water and other resources, declining biodiversity, digital disruption; and changing government, corporate, consumer and workforce expectations are creating a perfect storm for professionals leading and advising their organizations. These trends are anticipated to affect organizations directly — or indirectly through their supply chains. Professionals need the insights to understand the impacts of these trends on their organization’s operations, not to mention viability — and learn strategies to address or influence them. Some professional groups such as accountants, engineers and governance professionals are reskilling for the new reality, guided by forward-thinking professionals and professional associations.

But many professional associations are waiting for demand from their members before taking the initiative. Therein lies the problem — a vicious cycle has been created in which association leadership is waiting for demand for sustainability-upgrading from their members, while their members expect professional associations to alert them to the new requirements. This has created a logjam which inhibits progress.

The Real Estate Foundation of BC (REFBC) commissioned research into this topic, seeking to understand the nature of the demand for sustainability competencies within the real estate profession. As documented in the report Beyond the Transaction: Enhancing Professional Excellence in Real Estate in BC, the real estate profession believes in the merits of sustainability, and is eager to contribute its expertise to building healthy environments and communities. The report lays out the competency pathway — the need for research on the sustainability trends affecting the profession, the consumer business case, best-practice examples, education, tips, guides and resources.

Remarkably, the research found a solid 20 percent of realtors were personally committed to advancing sustainability through their work. However, they lacked the guidance to put them on firm footing and create greater social impact. Fortunately, research on the sustainability competencies needed by leaders is available, as are guidelines for professional associations that seek to equip their members with sustainability competencies.

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Professional associations need to know that their members are waiting for their leadership! Here are some of the steps professional groups can follow to ready their members for the future:

The REFBC report offers more details on these steps and is a call to action to realtors, their associations and professionals everywhere to up their game to cross the line towards a more sustainable future for their organizations and for the communities in which they live.

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