A global pandemic, major climate events, and a focus on social change have combined to create “unprecedented” demand for talent to fill sustainability and ESG positions, says Shelly Fust, co-leader for Korn Ferry’s global Sustainability and ESG Solutions Center of Expertise.
Speaking on the REIT Report, Fust described sustainability and ESG as “a very big tent,” requiring talent from all sectors and all levels to fill the demand being created by this accelerating market. “There's so much momentum underway in this space. I believe truly that anyone who has the passion and interest in this sector can find a very rewarding career,” she added.
Fust noted that corporate sustainability roles were really just being created about 15 years ago and were relatively thinly staffed at the top corporate level.
“Many of those first chief sustainability executives are now preparing to retire. And as we're having to then magnify these roles across just about every organization, we’re finding that there's significantly more demand than there is talent,” Fust said.
The sustainability and ESG journey for every organization is relatively unique, Fust said, and as a result these roles can be structured quite differently. Nevertheless, “what we are seeing is that there's a global trend to bring these roles up to the C-suite executive level, and then building out the organizations from there,” she noted.
Within the broader real estate environment, the full scope of E, S, and G issues are all represented within the built environment, Fust said. Because of the sector’s growing focus on sustainable building and related certifications, technologies, and systems, it is attracting individuals with architectural or engineering backgrounds who then go on to top positions in REITs and commercial real estate, she said.
Elsewhere in the interview, Fust urged potential job seekers to take the time to become educated on what's happening in the market, to network, and “find a way that links what your skills and passion are into all of these various roles.”