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IAC Recruit provides insight into growing sustainability teams

The shift in corporate sustainability from individual roles to comprehensive teams is not just a strategic evolution but also a recruitment challenge. As companies seek to build robust sustainability teams, understanding the recruitment market for key roles is crucial.

Below we share some of the roles you will need to grow your sustainability teams with essential industry insight:

Data and Analytics Expertise:

Data and analytics are crucial for sustainability efforts. A team or individual in this role should focus on both the types of data outputs required and the corresponding data inputs. The global market for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) data, software, and services is projected to grow to $5 billion by 2025, according to Opimas, a management consultancy. This growth underlines the increasing importance of data in driving sustainability decisions.

Market Availability: There’s a growing pool of data professionals, but the niche requirement for sustainability expertise makes this a challenging hire.

Recruitment Insight: LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report noted a 37% annual increase in data science roles. However, candidates with a blend of data analytics and sustainability knowledge are less common, making this a competitive area in recruitment.

ESG Reporting and External Stakeholder Management:

Despite varied opinions on ESG metrics, there’s an undeniable need for roles dedicated to ESG reporting and managing external stakeholder relationships. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reports that over 10,000 organisations in more than 100 countries use its standards for sustainability reporting. This role may range from part-time responsibilities to full-scale teams focusing on public relations and communications.

Market Availability: These roles are in high demand, particularly with the increased focus on ESG metrics.

Recruitment Insight: The complexity of ESG reporting standards requires professionals with not only sustainability knowledge but also regulatory and stakeholder management skills. This combination is rare, leading to a competitive market for such professionals.

Operational Change Advocates:

Operational change is vital for sustainability. Professionals in this area should be adept at coordinating and aligning changes across the business. A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies with high ESG ratings consistently outperform the market in both medium and long term. This underscores the importance of integrating sustainability into operational functions.

Market Availability: Operational change roles are moderately available, but sustainability-focused change advocates are rarer.

Recruitment Insight: A survey by GreenBiz revealed that only 40% of companies have a dedicated sustainability team. Finding professionals who can navigate sustainability in operational roles requires a headhunter’s expertise to identify candidates with both operational acumen and sustainability insight.

Supply Chain Innovators:

Sustainability in supply chain management is increasingly crucial. This involves up-skilling procurement teams to foster collaborative relationships focused on optimising resource use, not just cost, quality, timing, and volume. The World Economic Forum highlights that sustainable supply chain practices can increase profitability by up to 16% and lead to a 30% reduction in the supply chain’s carbon footprint.

Market Availability: This is a growing field, but the specific focus on sustainability is still developing.

Recruitment Insight: As per a report by Gartner, only 17% of supply chain professionals have indicated that they currently have sustainability initiatives in place. This suggests a market that is ripe for development but currently has a limited pool of fully qualified professionals.

Project Management Specialists:

Sustainability is a broad-spectrum change management program. Effective project management is key to handling various aspects of sustainability initiatives. PMI’s 2020 Pulse of the Profession report indicates that organisations waste 11.4% of investment due to poor project performance, highlighting the need for proficient project management in sustainability initiatives.

Market Availability: There’s a healthy supply of project managers, but those with experience in sustainability projects are less common.

Recruitment Insight: The Project Management Institute (PMI) suggests that sustainability in project management is an emerging area of expertise. Recruiters often have to look for candidates with transferable skills from other sectors.

The Recruitment Challenge:

Finding the right mix of skills and expertise in sustainability is challenging. Headhunters and recruitment agencies often need to employ a wealth of strategies, tapping into niche networks, leveraging LinkedIn data base and other candidate platforms to discover potential candidates. The demand for these roles is increasing, making the market competitive. Companies looking to recruit top talent in sustainability must offer compelling packages and clear career progression paths.

What will your next sustainability hire be?

Building a sustainability team is not only about identifying the right roles but also about understanding the recruitment landscape for these positions. IAC are our expert partner specialising in recruitment and talent search for sustainability and impact-focused roles. They support building teams from business development through to senior and C-suite.

If you have just received funding and need to start growing your team reach out to Chris Brooker, Recruitment Director (Chat on Linkedin here) Or on


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