“War for talent”: ESG professionals in high demand

Recruiters for roles in ESG and sustainability say it’s a candidate’s market when it comes to hiring.

Companies across most industry sectors are hiring from junior to senior executive levels to find capabilities in ESG and sustainability, driven by increased focus on ESG performance from investors, customers and community stakeholders, said Richard Evans, managing director, Talent Nation, which specialises in recruiting for the environmental and sustainability fields

“The market is very hot at the moment, there is a lot of demand because of an increased focus on ESG,” Evans said. “Having worked across sustainability for 12 years, I’ve never seen it like this.”

In addition to demand to increase in-house capabilities, the impact of having closed borders for 18 months has also hit the local supply of candidates, Evans said.

“This is a war for talent. Everyone keeps talking about the Great Resignation – we’re not seeing it yet, but we are seeing the Great Counter-Offer. There’s a shortage in this space with borders being closed and there’s traditionally been a flow of talent from Europe and the US, which have been ahead of Australia in the ESG space.”

Kaizen Recruitment senior recruitment Simon Gvalda reinforces those observations, specifically within the financial services sector.

“We’re still seeing strong demand for responsible investment and ESG roles across the market,” Gvalda said. “Definitely across funds management, super, consulting, banks, asset consultants – they’re all vying for talent at the moment, and even in the broader industry as well, which is adding to this undersupply of candidates in the market.

“There is demand at all levels – junior all the way to more senior levels, even up to head of ESG, head of responsible investment.”

Kaizen Recruitment noted that for the July to October 2021 quarter, 57% of placements were within funds management, with superannuation a strong second, as well as wealth management, asset consulting, insurance and trustee services.

There was strong demand for professionals across investments, ESG/responsible investment, risk and compliance, client services, data and performance analytics, investment accounting and operations, and marketing.

Kaizen Recruitment noted that 49% of appointments were women and 51% were men in the last three months.

Companies across industrial sectors are hiring into ESG roles with particular focus on climate risk and net zero targets, Evans said.

“Climate risk is front and centre,” he said. “Organisations are looking at net zero pathways. We’re seeing it across sectors – property, financial services, infrastructure, retailers as well in the fast-moving consumer goods sector pretty much every sector is looking at this currently.

“Any organisation that has investors know that they need to have a plan in place.”

Evans also highlighted that venture capital firms are also seeking to increase their in-house capabilities.

“We’re seeing the VCs as well hiring ESG specialists because they know that if they’re going to IPO or increase the value of their organisation, they need to have this mapped out,” Evans said. “In the last 12months and more so the last six months, ESG has moved from being on the fringe to becoming a core part of business.

“ESG professionals are getting board exposure, they’re getting rolled out to investor presentations, and there is a greater appreciation for the role that they play in this.”

The strong demand for ESG professionals is expected to last well into 2022, and Gvalda pointed to the opening of international borders as a future touchpoint.

“One of the things I see is that the is the migration of candidates to and from Australia will become more prominent over the next six to 12 months,” Gvalda said. “We have definitely seen candidates coming from the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, and there is strong demand in those markets as well, so the back and forth will continue, which may or may not help the number of candidates in Australia.”

This article was originally featured on FS Sustainability.