While boards have long discussed environmental, social and governance (ESG), the pandemic and the Russian war against Ukraine have transformed such conversations into action. The number and variety of ESG jobs will increase dramatically over the coming years as consumers and investors focus more on sustainable, responsible and ethical businesses.
Jobs in ESG
ESG talent is now in high demand across numerous industries and boardrooms worldwide. The emergence of ESG has presented businesses, board members and job seekers with one of the most significant opportunities since the era of digital transformation.
Businesses that don’t focus on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) risk losing out. Numerous studies have shown that high ESG scores positively impact financial performance.
People power is creating ESG jobs
The rise of ESG is primarily driven by people concerned about the future of the planet and the impact of corporate activity on peoples’ lives.
Consumers are increasingly factoring corporate responsibility and ESG into their buying decisions. Meanwhile, many businesses have been forced to redesign their core strategies and pay close attention to customer needs.
For corporate leaders, the lightbulb moment has come. ESG is good for business. ESG helps drive innovation, reduce risks, build stakeholder trust, and achieve bottom-line results. Integrating ESG into your core business strategy and operations will improve your chances of attracting and retaining investment and talent.
When it comes to investing in ESG, taking a wait-and-see stance is not the best option. For example, ESG and digital transformation have many parallels. In recent years, companies that leapt into digital transformation early, made mistakes, and learned from them, were the ones that navigated the pandemic more successfully. They far outperformed those who took the wait and see approach.
Why is ESG so important?
The biggest investment funds on the planet, those that power the wheels of industry, now say they favour businesses with strong ESG. By 2021, investments in ESG funds approached $700 billion, more than double the 2019 figure, and now account for 10 per cent of worldwide funds.
ESG investments are expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030. We are clearly seeing the rise of the ESG industry and the need to focus on attracting the best talent to enable this transformation.
ESG qualifications for board members
Companies need leaders and board members who understand what is involved to succeed in this space. To do so, they must demonstrate to the entire business the importance of ESG and become adept at adapting and embracing these changes. This will require ESG training for business leaders and board members.
In 2021, PwC announced a $12 billion plan to develop 100,000 new jobs in ESG by 2026. This figure, if achieved, would represent a third of the total workforce at PwC.
According to global recruitment firm Robert Walters, 90 per cent of Ireland’s leading firms include ESG in their top-level strategic decisions.
ESG professionals will continue to be in high demand for years to come. In this rapidly changing environment, businesses are looking for ESG professionals who are agile in their thinking and able to adapt.
ESG is a relatively new field, so the early talent pool is limited. There is an increasing need to build and expand a diverse talent pool with appropriate training and experience.
In an age where investors are driving further demands for sustainability, ESG is becoming essential to most prominent businesses. Is your board prepared?