The next big thing: Sustainability gaining corporate interest

From consumer sentiment to financial benefits, businesses are increasingly incentivized to pursue sustainability. For staffing, the field can be a boon.

Often defined as integrating environmental health, social equity and economic equity for generations to come, sustainability is growing — and it may be opening doors for staffing firms.

According to a report by LinkedIn, the share of green talent rose to 13.3% in 2021 from 9.6% in 2015, a growth rate of 38.5%. The report defines green talent as a LinkedIn member who has explicitly added green skills to their profile and/or is working in a green or greening job.

Separately, a recent SIA report by Research Analyst Amy Horvat found that the renewable energy industry will add nearly 10 million new jobs over the next seven years. And Crain’s Chicago Business recently announced notable leaders in sustainability for 2024.

“There’s a level of urgency in working with sustainability now,” Jody Mousseau, VP of sustainability development at staffing provider Aquent, tells me. Mousseau leads the company’s new Aquent Sustainability business, which aims to help businesses hire professionals for strategy, ESG reporting, social impact and sustainable projects and initiatives. It also pairs clients with freelance temporary sustainability professionals. Aquent itself has been investing in solar areas as well as taking other sustainability steps.

How Can Staffing Firms Benefit From ES&G and Sustainability?

There are a number of reasons for organizations to pursue sustainability. Consumer sentiment is one, which itself is a financial incentive. Sustainability generates trust among consumers, Deloitte researchers wrote in Harvard Business Review. And consumers who trust a brand are more likely to do business with it.

There are other benefits as well.

“A lot of financial incentives are being given to companies for being sustainable,” Mousseau says. “For example, the Inflation Reduction Act gave a lot of incentives for companies to build out sustainability projects and work on different aspects of that. In addition, it’s become a trend for some investors to look at ES&G scores when determining if they will invest in a company.”

With the interest in sustainability, there’s a need for professional talent in sustainability — both office and field jobs for companies in the sustainability space. Aquent aims to help fill that need with its new sustainability business.

But in addition to professionals, there’s also the need for knowledge. Mousseau says that often one of the first hurdles for client firms is deciding where to start.

“I think a big thing for companies to realize is — whether a company has been doing this since early 2000s or just starting now — everybody is at a different place and it is fairly new for everyone.” So how should firms get started? Simply start asking questions, Mousseau advises.

Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson
Craig Johnson is senior editorial director at Staffing Industry Analysts. He can be reached at cjohnson (at) staffingindustry (dot) com.

Craig Johnson

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