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This is the weekly Careers newsletter.

Radhika Panjwani is a former journalist from Toronto and a blogger.

Is your organization looking to fill environmental, social and governance (ESG) roles? Reach out to Gen Z workers and appeal to their purpose-driven work philosophy, a pair of experts say.

Gen Z workers (born between 1997 and 2012) have strong views on how businesses and brands should influence society and environment, according to a Deloitte report. A job involving ESG could be a match made in heaven say the experts, who spoke with The Globe and Mail.

“The skills gap around ESG offers new entrants to the work force, [for example], Gen Z, some great opportunities to build capabilities and knowledge,” said Margaret Franklin, chief executive officer of the CFA Institute, a global association of investment professionals.

“Given that Gen Z wants an integration of personal values and professional contribution, a career in ESG will especially benefit those who chose to pursue specialist roles from the beginning of their career as ESG considerations will continue to drive investment decisions and critical conversations for decades to come.”

In October, 2021, CFA conducted a study of more than 15,000 students between the ages of 18 and 25 to examine what the future holds for undergrads, graduate students and recent graduates as they prepare to enter the work force.

One of the insights from the Global Student Outlook Report was that 87 per cent of people entering the work force said being able to make a positive contribution to society and the environment is an important part of their career choice.

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Working in the sustainability field can be rewarding for Gen Zs as their careers become about influencing the future, said Alanna Boyd, chief sustainability officer at Sun Life Financial Inc., a global life/health insurance and asset management company.

“Gen Zs are sometimes referred to as the sustainability generation as the world they are inheriting will likely look different in their lifetime,” Ms. Boyd said. “You get to spend your day coming up with solutions to the world’s largest challenges: reducing a company’s environmental impact, enhancing the inclusivity of products and services and ensuring a company is tracking, measuring and monitoring progress and reporting publicly so they can be held to account.”

Skills gap and repercussions

There’s a 60-per-cent gap between the demand for learning and the supply of talent in ESG, said CFA’s Ms. Franklin. She said the gap indicates a clear need to provide adequate resources to those who want to increase their skills.

“ESG data and analytics is complex work, and we are seeing a greater need for long-term specialists that can stay on top of the day-to-day developments and evolution in ESG analysis,” Ms. Franklin said. “If firms are not able to hire specialists that have the bandwidth to focus on the most recent ESG developments, this could present significant risk.”

Given Canada’s ambitious climate goals, the country will need a labour force equipped with the right skills. One of the challenges filling ESG roles is the multidisciplinary nature of the subject matter. It requires workers having knowledge and expertise across several verticals, Ms. Franklin said.

According to a 2022 Royal Bank of Canada report, as Canada moves to a net-zero economy over the next decade, 3.1 million Canadian jobs will be affected as the market shifts and work force adapts. As a result, there will up to 400,000 new jobs added in fields where enhanced green skills are critical.

When it comes to ESG roles, there are different ways the skills are integrated within an organization. For instance, some teams may have dedicated ESG specialists, while others may consider ESG expertise as essential knowledge for portfolio managers. It’s critical for specialists to have T-shaped skills, or a combination of deep knowledge in ESG analysis and wider knowledge of the broader investment field, Ms. Franklin said.

Recruitment and retention

A company’s sustainability performance will affect its recruitment and retention efforts and companies that keep pace will ultimately win the war for all talent, not just sustainability talent, Ms. Boyd said.

“When it comes to finding and recruiting for sustainability talent, we’re leaning heavily on leveraging our own networks to bring in like-minded talent that can rally around our commitments and purpose,” Ms. Boyd said. “We’re also focused on creating an inclusive team with diverse skill sets. That sometimes looks like hiring someone for their skill set and allowing them to learn the subject matter in the role.”

The CFA Institute too has doubled down on its efforts to help investment professionals develop an understanding of the ESG landscape. It has addressed the need for new skills with the globalization of the certificate in ESG Investing, a program to equip investment professionals with the knowledge they need to incorporate ESG considerations into their everyday practices.

“Beyond the hard skills, for anyone pursuing a career in sustainability, I would call out tenacity, an ability to work with extraordinary levels of ambiguity and relationship-building skills as must-have competencies,” Ms. Boyd said. “Sustainability is a rapidly growing and changing area and importantly, none of us is going to be able to accomplish what needs to happen for society or future generations without relying on one another.”

What I’m reading around the web
  • ChatGPT may be the star of AI at the moment, but according to this story in Digital Trends there are several others with powerful capabilities, such as Lumen5, a video-editing tool that allows you to generate video from text and Zyro, an AI tool which uses machine learning to remove background from images.
  • This article in Psychology Today lists five reasons why there’s an absence of professionalism in the workplace: helicopter parenting, electronic communication and more people with individual accommodation may all be responsible.
  • In this personal story, a senior correspondent with Business Insider, writes about what happened when she decided to reveal her salary to some 50 odd people.

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