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Navigating the Corporate Sustainability and ESG recruitment market in 2022

  • Publish Date: Posted almost 2 years ago
  • Author:by Lester Lockyer

As the landscape for Sustainability and Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) professionals continues to layer up in complexity, so does the challenge of navigating the sector for those seeking to hire or be hired within it.

What was once an Environmental Management piece centred on compliance, against a backdrop of regulatory requirements, became a more nuanced Sustainability Management role through a wider lens of non-regulatory corporate challenges, but still centred predominantly around environmental considerations.

The emergency of ESG brings together Environmental, Social and Governance frameworks creating a more holistic approach to these three areas. With E, S & G each having its own range of topics and subtleties the picture starts to gain complexity. To add to the pot this may be referred to as Responsible Business under a slightly different arrangement.

ESG subjects overlap one another, are applied, and arranged differently from business to business and sector to sector, and so the complexity starts to ramp up further for anyone seeking a role or seeking to fill a role.


Hiring challenges

With increasing prominence of Sustainability & ESG in business the market has seen a huge shift in hiring both in terms of the number, variety and complexity of recruiting.

One notable observation is that organisations are increasingly seeking more senior leadership for the discipline than has previously been in place, and this brings further challenges to hiring. At Executive-level, candidates with technical credibility are sought to provide strategic direction, advise and inform the boards, represent the business in public and professional forums and stay informed of future challenges to steer the business forward ahead of the curve(s).

Rightly, each organisation must approach the subject relative to their needs and so create the most appropriate template for an ESG/Sustainability Director. Understanding what lies behind the job title is the first challenge for talent acquisition, often our clients are starting out on that process and looking to inform their decision making through the process. They’re refining the role with that learning, including what the market looks like and what configuration of skills can be achieved in one person and, if so, at what price point.

Resourcing in these circumstances, across a disparate and complex candidate market presents quite the challenge. Sustainability has many aspects to it with individual candidates having distinct strengths and weaknesses relative to others. Routes to entry include those coming up from relevant degree backgrounds but the sector has also brought people in from earlier careers in finance, marketing, communications, material sciences, operations, business transformation, programme management and more besides. There is no ‘one size fits all’.

Similarly, for those seeking a new move, the job title is just the beginning of the learning that needs to happen to ensure they are applying for the right role for their skills and aspirations.

Allen & York have specialised in Environmental & Sustainability recruitment since 1993, we operate in the market by running concurrent search projects across the Corporate Sustainability sector consistently tracking the market and candidate pool to stay informed and connected.

If you need help sourcing your next great hire, get in touch, contact: or visit for more information.

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