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The ESG talent race

  • Publish Date: Posted over 1 year ago
  • Author:by Spencer Cooney

The demand for experienced and skilled professionals within environmental, social and governance (ESG) has reached an all-time high, vastly exceeding the existing number of experienced and qualified professionals available in this booming discipline. With the climate change agenda now strongly rooted in future business and economic strategies, the race for talent within ESG and the wider sustainability community presents a growing concern and challenge to the development of climate and sustainability solutions.

Within professional services, particularly finance, investment and management consultancies, we’ve seen a high demand in the requirement for suitably qualified ESG professionals. This increase in demand seems to be as a result of organisations recognising the need to collect and report on ESG data from associated stakeholders being of greater importance, as part of organisational strategy and also to streamline their strategies moving forward.

The shift towards ESG has been so significant in recent times with COP26 and now COP27, that there is a real concern that there is not enough talent available in the market to meet the current or future level of demand. This rising battle for professional talent, means it’s an extremely promising time to be an ESG professional. Last year PwC, confirmed they were intending to initiate a plan to develop approximately 100,000 new jobs in ESG by 2026 representing a stunning $12 billion backing by the business, if successful, this will be the equivalate to over a 30% rise in their existing employee base. Other players in the market, including KPMG, Deloitte, EY, and many other financial institutions, are also now accelerating their ESG hiring efforts – so the race for talent is getting more and more competitive.

The ESG market as a whole has become progressively more and more complex and challenging over the last 3 years. ESG jobs have expanded beyond collecting and analysing general ESG data, to become a vital part of business strategy. ESG has become more closely associated with sustainability, sometimes with a blurring of the lines from both professionals and corporations alike.

This complexity and blurring of the lines between ESG and sustainability has not helped the market with regards to the experience shortage it is suffering. Businesses are still rebounding after the pandemic and looking to hire new staff to maintain growth, yet some are struggling to find the right candidates to support this aim. With a shortage of available experienced professionals, those firms who are flexible with their candidate profiles, recruitment processes, and remuneration packages will land the best talent. As things begin to return to ‘normal’ across the globe, closer to home the new challenges of the cost of living crisis to consider, there are some practices which businesses in the sector should continue to implement, for example financial and personal wellbeing benefits. Organisations that delay, or want to execute an extended recruitment process, may see their desired new recruits snapped up by competitors. Conversely, the best candidates active in the market will have their pick of multiple offers.

Meanwhile, political and economic uncertainty, the situation in Ukraine and the UK cost of living crisis could lead many ESG professionals to stay in their roles to maintain a sense of stability in uncertain times. Candidates will take the time to consider potential employers, will negotiate for the right remuneration packages, want work-life balance and need to consider company culture before deciding to move.

The combination of organisations looking to grow and candidates being cautious has created a hugely competitive market. With counter-offers becoming more and more commonplace, as businesses try to retain their staff rather than having to replace them, the challenge to be first over the hiring finishing line looks set to continue well into the next few years.

Allen & York’s market knowledge and understanding - combined with our network built over 30 years in Environmental & Sustainability hiring - sets us apart from others in the Green Executive Search and Recruitment space. If you’re looking to hire in ESG, and need some help and advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch, email Spencer at: or visit:

Allen & York – delivering Sustainable Recruitment Solutions since 1993.