EVENTS & INSIGHTS / INSIGHT

4 Ways to Attract Top Sustainability Talent

by Shannon Houde

2020 might have been wrought with crisis for many sectors; but for sustainability and ESG professionals, it marked a turning point. The last year has firmly cemented the relationship between purpose-led business and corporate success, with a wide swathe of companies now stepping up recruitment of specialist sustainability and impact roles. Jobs that touch on the “green” economy alone are expected to soar 105 percent by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For the many motivated and experienced sustainability professionals out there, this presents a big opportunity. What better time to kickstart your career, go after that promotion or even start from scratch in the specialty?

But if you’re a recruiter, particularly at a brand where sustainability is embedded into every part of the business, it presents a big challenge. When competition for the best sustainability professionals out there just got a lot tougher, how do you attract, retain and empower them to drive progress at your organization?

DON'T MISS OUT
ON MORE FREE TIPS

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign up

Upskill existing talent

Did you know that nearly two out of three people aren’t currently happy or fulfilled in their role? For companies looking to grow their pool of talent in a competitive space, it pays to first identify existing staff members — those that have already proved their worth and know the business — that might be looking for new opportunities in impact or purpose-led roles.

Encourage line managers to check in with teams and get a sense of who might be itching for a new challenge. Actively promote sustainability and ESG roles on internal comms and highlight that full training can be given. Offer taster sessions in which any member of staff can learn more about the sustainability and impact work going on within the company.

The important thing is that, before you look outside for new recruits, ensure you’re not missing out on great talent currently dormant within the business.

Create tailored job specs

One of the great things about ESG and sustainability coming to the fore across all types of businesses, is that it’s no longer siloed in a specialist department, or sat separate from the nuts and bolts of operations. But as the reality of these roles evolve, so too do recruitment teams need to more carefully define the role that potential candidates are looking at.

That means avoiding vague terms or criteria that could encompass any role in sustainability. Just as you’d expect each cover letter to be tailored for each role, ensure each job spec is specific to the individual job opening.

For technical roles, for instance, ensure that the specialist departments are working alongside HR teams to draft criteria, and have a final check before the job is advertised.

Benchmark your competitors

Previously, recruiters at forward-thinking companies had the advantage. They were few and far between, while mainstream companies saw little reason to bother with the specialism beyond a small CSR team in a corner office. That meant their competition was a smaller pool of often similar companies. Now that demand for ESG and sustainability professionals has ballooned, covering every industry, that competition is vast and far less familiar.

That means it pays dividends to carry out a benchmarking exercise for the types of roles you’re recruiting for. Where possible, conduct or commission a salary-benchmarking study or use an external recruitment agency to do a candidate-mapping exercise. Know what you’re up against.

Empower your team to help

As we all know, many candidates don’t land their dream job by waiting for the perfect recruitment ad to pop up. That’s even truer in the ESG and sustainability sphere — where the transferability of skills, and the movement between totally different industries, makes networking and relationship-building such a big part of securing your next gig.

But this same logic applies to recruiters on the other side of the fence. With ESG and sustainability, it’s crucial to look beyond your immediate competitors, beyond your industry and — given the lessons of 2020 — even beyond your typical geography to land the best candidate for the job.

Doing so can be both challenging and resource-intensive, though. So, don’t ignore the power in leveraging your existing networks and relationships as a business — i.e., your existing team. Set aside budget to incentivize staff to identify and flag opportunities to external candidates they know. Set a KPI for senior leadership, with rewards attached. Create an open channel for staff to highlight potential candidates, whether there’s a specific job vacancy or not.

It’s brilliant news that sustainability and ESG professionals look set to become as critical to any business as operations, sales and marketing; but for brands that rely on a steady stream of candidates in these roles, it will require a rethink of hiring strategies. Without a big effort to attract and retain top talent, even the most sustainable-centric business might find themselves losing out to the competition.

 

This article was already published by Sustainable Brands and can be viewed here.

comments

You may also like...

Podcast: Hays Worldwide – How to Find Meaning in Your Work

Shannon joins Hays Worldwide for their Career Advice Podcast to talk about doing Good Work. You can listen to the podcast on your favourite channel or listen to the full episode here: DON’T MISS OUTON MORE FREE TIPS Sign Up For Our Newsletter Sign up If you’d like some help to do more Good Work, you can book a 30 minute trial session here to discuss your challenges and objectives in more detail.

By Shannon Houde
6 reasons why it’s ok to hate networking

It might be billed as one of the best ways to get ahead but in reality, relentless networkers end up making more enemies than friends. Is there anything worse than that person who LOVES networking? We’ve all met them. There you are standing at a conference minding your own business when they barrel in, reel off their resume, drop a few high powered names and thrust a business card (“it’s new, embossed, cost a fortune”) into your hand. DON’T MISS

By Shannon Houde
The Big Picture: Sustainable Food And Career Choices

Shannon was thrilled to be featured in Forbes as part of Erik Kobayashi-Solomon’s My Big Picture column. My Big Picture articles focus on making sensible choices in the resource-constrained Anthropocene world in which we live. Some of these articles deal with wonkier topics related to economics and resource usage; some (like the one you are reading now) concern topics related to managing our lives on a day-to-day basis in the Age of Climate Change. Executive Summary The Netflix documentary Seaspiracy offers a

By Shannon Houde
career
How to get a career in sustainability: hard work, talent and perseverance

You’ve seen the light. After a decade as an accountant or sales manager or marketing executive, you decide a career in corporate sustainability is the thing for you. And why not? The power of business can potentially help to resolve some of the most taxing social and environmental issues of the day. Being part of that promises plenty of exciting development and brain-twisting challenges along the way; not to mention the quiet satisfaction that derives from doing a job that

By Shannon Houde

NEED SOME SUPPORT?

Book a 30-minute trial session with Shannon

BOOK A TRIAL