With COP28 around the corner, how can specialised recruitment agencies help companies navigate ESG and sustainability talent shortages?

ESG and sustainability have quickly become priorities for governments, investors, corporations, and consumers


By Jon Stojan

Published: Thu 30 Nov 2023, 2:28 PM

The demand for ESG and sustainability professionals is booming, but finding talent is difficult. However, working with recruitment agencies specialising in the industry can mitigate these problems. With COP28 starting today, the UAE is expected to significantly emphasise the urge for governments and corporations to deploy sustainability capabilities to accelerate the climate transition.

ESG and sustainability have quickly become priorities for governments, investors, corporations, and consumers. This boost in interest has accelerated job growth, creating more opportunities for interested candidates. However, despite the high-growth nature of this niche, players in the space are struggling to find talent. As we approach COP28 at a rapid pace, corporations anticipate intensifying their efforts in seeking specialised talents who can design and lead their sustainability initiatives.

LinkedIn 's' Global Green Skills Report 2023 revealed that between 2022 and 2023 alone, the share of green talent in the workforce rose by a median of 12.3 per cent across the 48 countries they examined, while the share of job postings requiring at least one green skill grew nearly twice as quickly - by a median of 22.4 per cent.

Furthermore, a study of 506 corporate sustainability leaders highlighted that 35 per cent of their companies felt that it took more work to upskill or train talent on climate change skills. They noted that these barriers stifle business but also prevent the mitigation of global emissions that worsen the climate crisis.

"The unprecedented acceleration that we have seen in clean energy transitions is creating millions of new job opportunities all over the world - but these are not being filled quickly enough," said the IEA Executive Director, Fatih Birol in the latest IEA report published in November 2023.

So, what can the ESG and Sustainability industry do to cope with a limited talent pool?

This sector is currently nascent and fragmented as companies grapple with fluctuating local and international regulations and corporate commitments. Candidates' qualifications are limited since the industry is new and companies may need external support to develop effective internal structures. The same industry insider who reported on the shortcomings of ESG and sustainability has highlighted some strategies that would stimulate long-term growth.

Since new and existing companies are largely unfamiliar with the ESG and sustainability space, they should enlist the help of external consultancies and agencies that can provide them with guidance on how to implement sustainability best practices and surround themselves with top-tier professionals to design and drive these changes. Corporations must consider attracting international talent to reduce hiring challenges and invest in courses that can upskill existing employees.

When your primary objective is to attract top-notch ESG and sustainability talent to guide corporate sustainability to respond to market demand and enhance your company’s value, it is worth contemplating collaboration with sustainability-focused recruitment agencies.

EnableGreen, an ESG and Sustainability Recruitment Agency, stands out as a leading global executive search and recruitment company specialising in the field of sustainability. Their commitment is to empower organisations worldwide by incorporating purpose-driven individuals into their teams, contributing to the global shift toward sustainability and responsible business practices. With headquarters in both London and Dubai, the firm possesses profound insights into global hiring trends and a comprehensive understanding of how companies across various sectors can construct effective ESG and sustainability teams.

EnableGreen was co-founded by Hayatte Loukili and Morgan Richez to serve the growing need for ESG and sustainability talent. Hayatte Loukili has worked with and advised hundreds of businesses on their sustainability initiatives. Morgan Richez is a seasoned recruiter and entrepreneur with extensive expertise in locating, attracting, and retaining high-performance talent across multiple industries.

Since the company was established, the founders have seen significant changes in the ESG and sustainability landscape. Shifts in consumer behavior have caused more organizations to see the financial necessity of integrating ESG and sustainability commitments into their company. Additionally, policymakers are advocating for the public and private sector to switch to greener, less polluting activities. For them, significant skills gaps pose a substantial barrier to the rapid execution of climate change initiatives and the realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The evolving ESG and sustainability landscape necessitates that companies remain flexible and well-informed about the hiring strategies required to attract sought-after talent. Hayatte Loukili and Morgan Richez also stressed that in the aftermath of the inaugural Global Stocktake, there is a notable anticipation of a resolute dedication at COP28 to expedite actions in the direction of the Net Zero transition. This notably includes tripling the expansion of renewable energy capacity and bolstering climate finance. For these experts, it becomes evident that this growth necessitates more than just technological investment. It underscores the requirement for a proficient cadre of professionals capable of ensuring effective deployment. They expect that companies will aggressively pursue specialised candidates.

While the ESG and sustainability markets are actively looking for talent, companies are often unaware of how challenging it is to find quality candidates, says Hayatte Loukili. She adds "After a few months of searching for the right profile, companies come to us for help because they couldn't achieve their goals. Our in-depth comprehension of the job market sets our sustainability-focused executive search business apart from competitors. We recognize that leadership, the transferability of skills, change management expertise, and adaptability are critical skill sets for advancing our clients' sustainability agendas. Sustainability is a relatively recent concept but also an ever-evolving domain that necessitates flexibility, ingenuity, and steadfast commitment. We collaborate closely with our clients and candidates to facilitate realizing their sustainability objectives. We know what type of candidate is suitable for the business to serve its long-term vision. With that insight, we advise our clients on what team they need, how to attract and retain world-class talent, and how to integrate sustainability practices into the business' foundation."

EnableGreen provides hands-on support for companies throughout their ESG and sustainability journey. The company clarifies prominent sustainability goals and the preferred deployment timeline when meeting new clients. With this information, EnableGreen's highly knowledgeable team informs clients about what positions they need to fill and how their teams must function to meet the organization's ambition.

Under Hayatte Loukili and Morgan Richez' cultured leadership, EnableGreen has built a robust sourcing network. The organisation has close relationships with leading companies, prestigious universities, and internationally recognised think tanks. Through these valuable connections, EnableGreen's recruitment consultants stay abreast of market dynamics and align client requirements with success-driven strategies. Their experienced recruiters possess a deep understanding of ESG, sustainability, climate change, green energy, cleantech, responsible finance, and impact investing roles. The company offers executive search, recruitment, and contract services across various industries and for several positions at different seniority levels.

"Talent is crucial for addressing the world's ESG and sustainability challenges," says Hayatte. "EnableGreen's mission is to assist clients and candidates in positively impacting the environment, society, and economy over the long term. Our commitment lies in leveraging our extensive network to deliver superior service to clients and candidates, ensuring the perfect match. We are also dedicated to empowering candidates in their pursuit of sustainability careers. We provide candidates with ESG and Sustainability jobs and advise them on the necessary training to bridge the skills gap to develop their purpose-driven careers."

ESG and sustainability initiatives are crucial for organisational success in the modern business world. Companies are slowly adapting to an increased demand for eco-friendly practices, and talent is the driving factor leading them to innovation. The industry must continue to invest in human resource development and recruitment of professionals to meet global environmental goals and transform business operations.

Jon Stojan

Published: Thu 30 Nov 2023, 2:28 PM