Sustainability professionals encounter huge challenges in adequately effectuating change processes towards sustainability in their daily job situation, due to the complexity of the change process; this also raises the question as to what extent their competences address their own sustainable labor participation. In the presented research the conglomerate of necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes (labelled competences) for effectively conducting change processes towards sustainability will be investigated with practitioners, relating the results to existing frameworks for sustainability competences. The professional’s own sustainable labor participation will be investigated and analysed for sustainability professionals and professionals in other fields. The research approach will consist of designing and conducting workshops, interviews and survey(s); its appropriateness in generating valid and trustworthy data will be part of the investigations. The results of this research can be implemented in training facilities for practitioners.
The key findings are the empirical evidence of an overarching sustainability intervention competency of sustainability professionals. This provides a fine-grained picture of its six key competencies, namely interpersonal collaboration competency, capacity building, intrapreneurial competency, strategic competency, political competency, and implementation competency. Awareness of sustainability intervention competencies can assist organizations to develop new recruitment strategies, selection processes, and training programs. It can guide human resource management to re-think and recalibrate their strategies. Furthermore, insights in sustainability intervention competencies can help associations of sustainability professionals to devise training programs, enhance certification systems, and to provide opportunities for competency related exchange between members. The Belgian sustainability professionals expressed their strong demand for on-the-job training and underscore their continuous learning efforts. Some explicitly mention the need to further develop their capacity for political thinking and acting. Furthermore, this study presents novel insights on the importance of an intrapreneurial competency for practitioners in the field of sustainability. Research from management science points out that the demand for this competency is not limited to professionals the public domain, but for mangers in corporations as well. Without doubt, organizations could tremendously benefit from employees that have abilities of entrepreneurs, but stick with their organization to advance its mission and foster success. Identification and development of intrapreneurial competencies should therefore be on the agenda of sustainability related human resource management.