In this guest post, freelance writer, Tommy Watts, uses data-driven reasoning to demonstrate why hiring for sustainability is critical for businesses of all sizes.
The crescendo of demands for sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) alignment means companies must focus on reshaping their hiring processes. However, the green skills gap continues to be a significant obstacle. The talent pool remains inadequately supplied, with only 13% of the workforce skilled enough to support a meaningful green transition.
This gap must be bridged if ambitious net zero goals are to be met. Below, let’s explore actionable strategies companies can employ to prioritise sustainability and ESG in their workforce development.
The challenge of the green skills gap
The origins of the green skills gap are deeply intertwined with the rapid transformation of industries and the shifting demands of the modern workforce. According to LinkedIn data, the surge in green job opportunities has outpaced the growth in the available talent pool. Job vacancies requiring green skills have increased by 12.3%, while the number of skilled professionals has only risen by 6%. This widening disparity signals a critical need for a concerted effort to align education and training with the demands of sustainability-focused roles.
Moreover, the rapid pace of change occurs within industries not traditionally associated with sustainability. Roles such as heat pump technicians and sustainable fashion experts are in high demand — and this necessitates a skill set that goes beyond the conventional qualifications offered by educational institutions. The outcome is a scarcity of professionals with deep-seated knowledge of sustainability intricacies, circular economy strategies, and ESG integration.
Strategies for prioritising sustainability
This aforementioned misalignment exacerbates the green skills gap, making it imperative for companies to take proactive measures to address this disconnect.
Elevating sustainability in leadership
Sustainable leadership is the linchpin for organisations prioritising ESG and bridging the green skills gap. Positions such as director of sustainability can catalyse sustainable transformations by spearheading sustainability strategies at the highest levels of decision-making. These leaders are instrumental in ensuring sustainability isn’t relegated to a single department, but resonates throughout the organisation.
A key exemplar of this strategy is Unilever. The consumer goods giant appointed Chief Sustainability Officer Rebecca Marmot in 2019 after her triumphant performance as the company’s Global Vice President of Sustainability. Under her leadership, Unilever contributed to significant sustainability landmarks like the 2015 Paris Accord and integrated sustainability considerations into supply chain operations. Similar top-down commitment may further inspire employees at all levels to contribute to the green agenda.
Imprinting sustainability across organisational strata
To genuinely prioritise sustainability, it must be woven into every facet of the organisation. This demands comprehensive strategies that transcend departmental silos, from the upper echelons of leadership to entry-level positions.
Start with upskilling your recruitment department, where your human resources generalist will emerge as a pivotal player in the push for sustainability. These professionals assist the human resources managers in advising employees on the interpretation of sustainability-related policies. Thus, they only tend to require a bachelor’s degree in a related area. See how the background of anthropologist Dr. Shea Winsett helped her teach conflict and sustainability while working as the World Food Program USA’s human resources generalist. Her experience allowed her to understand individuals of different cultures and connect on the mutual goal of sustainability.
Cultivating a learning culture for sustainability
Organisations can proactively address the green skills gap by fostering a culture that encourages employees to stay abreast of evolving sustainability trends. Implementing workshops and certifications empowers employees to evolve in tandem with the demands of the industry.
Such training programmes can focus on critical areas such as renewable energy, circular economy principles, and sustainable supply chain management. This strategy has been implemented by various industry leaders, from Walmart with its supply-chain training programme to Nike with its transparency and global collaboration.
As the demand for green jobs surges, companies championing sustainability become catalysts for a more environmentally conscious future. By embracing sustainability today, companies can forge their identity as vanguards of a sustainable tomorrow, driving change across industries and generations.
Tommy Watts is a freelance writer who specialises in covering sustainability in business. He believes that companies must do more to help the planet. He hopes his articles promote businesses that are contributing positively and shed light on companies that have room for improvement. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and swimming in natural waters.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?