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What the Corporate Sustainability Movement Means for Recruitment

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

It wasn’t that long ago that CSR, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability teams were pushed to the back of offices, or even responsibility for corporate sustainability would sometimes be forcefully intertwined into an existing role with very little attention from leadership.


However, now the picture looks different. The mix of climate change, conscious consumerism, and even coronavirus has forced all businesses across all sectors to look at their existing actions on social and environmental issues. A study of 150 executives, found that 88% of business leaders now believe that companies must lead with purpose.


What is Corporate Social Responsibility?


Corporate social responsibility is a management strategy where companies integrate environmental and social concerns into their business operation and stakeholder interactions.


A correctly implemented CSR strategy can bring a variety of benefits, such as increased profits and sales, enhanced access to markets, operational cost savings, improved work quality and productivity, an efficient human resource base, and improved brand reputation and image.


What are businesses doing about this?


As a result of this, companies are now stepping up recruitment for sustainability roles, and according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, some jobs in the green economy are expected to see up to 100% growth by 2026. Even more shocking is the increased recognition that CSR roles need to be filled by specialists, not just merging into an existing role. A report from GreenBiz states that in 2012, less than half of sustainability hires came from outside corporations, whereas today it is 67%.


In simpler terms, companies are now acknowledging they need to look outside the people in their business to get access to the type of knowledge and expertise they need to significantly scale up their approach on social issues. There is an increasing number of impact-focused professionals and this presents a critical opportunity, as there has never been a better time to start a career or go after that promotion in the impact sector.


As for recruiters, this presents a new challenge. Where sustainability wasn’t previously a priority, the hiring process needs to be retooled to attract the type of impact specialists that senior leaders now want.


Where do you start?


It starts before you even type up the job specification. First, you need to ensure that your recruitment team has reached a decision on how to communicate your company’s ambitions when it comes to sustainable goals within the business. The companies that struggle to clearly communicate their CSR, will be the ones that struggle to attract the highest quality talent.


People seeking jobs in the impact sector want to work for companies that not only share the same values as them but put them into practice too. This is even more true regarding younger job seekers; according to a study, two-thirds of millennials won’t work for employers with no strong CSR policy.


Next, ensure you’re tailoring your job descriptions, and avoid any vague terminology that could include all roles within sustainability. In the same way you’d expect each cover letter your receive in applications to be tailored to the roles, candidates expect your adverts and job specs to be specific to the individual job. For technical roles, ensure that the related specialist departments are working alongside human resources to draft the criteria, ensuring they are reasonable while still rigorous. The language used should reflect the language your company uses; diversity and inclusion, CSR, sustainability, impact, etc.


Thirdly, make sure your employer value proposition matches your competitors’. As the demand for sustainability professionals has increased, it’s more important to ensure you’re clear on what these specialists expect regarding benefits and salary, growth opportunities and job responsibilities. Candidate expect are also changing; the average global salary in CSR grew to 21% between 2018 and 2020. Do your research and conduct a salary benchmarking study to know what you’re up against.


Finally, focus on employee engagement. New opportunities are appearing in the impact sector all the time, which means that retaining top specialists at your company will be an ongoing process. Focusing on employee progression and promotion, and professional development will make sure of this. In the environmental and social impact field, the knowledge, tools and expectations are constantly evolving.


The specialisation of sustainability is a good thing for the sector and the professionals in it. It means that businesses are putting the topic at the top of their agendas, however there’s no doubt that hiring managers need to take a close look at how they go about attracting the most skilled talent to their companies in the newly competitive market.


If you enjoyed this blog, why not read some of our other blogs? Or get in contact with us if you require advice on recruitment within the sustainability sector.


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