The Importance of Sustainability in Talent Management

By | Last Updated: 20 March 2024


Photo Credit: DALL-E

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Sustainability is no longer a niche concern; it's a universal imperative across all job functions, specially for talent management. From the boardroom to different teams, every employee plays a role in pushing the sustainability agenda forward. This collective approach is key to driving meaningful change and achieving our global sustainability goals.

The Trend Towards Sustainable Business Models

There's a growing trend of employees, especially among younger generations, who prioritize working for organizations with strong commitments to sustainability. This shift is not just a preference but a demand for meaningful work that contributes to social and environmental solutions. A study by Cone Communications revealed that 51% of employees wouldn't work for a company lacking strong policies on social or environmental sustainability​​. Furthermore, millennials, who are projected to make up about 75% of the workforce by 2025, and Gen Z are leading this charge.

McKinsey's insights further reinforce this, indicating that companies leading in sustainability efforts are more likely to attract and retain employees, as these companies are perceived to be more aligned with the goals, mission, and values of their workforce. This alignment is crucial for younger generations; for instance, millennials and Gen Z, who prioritize purpose over salary, are looking for employers whose values match their own. This trend underscores the growing importance of sustainability in not just attracting top talent but in fostering a culture of engagement and retention​​.

To attract and recruit talent for sustainability within an organization, people and talent managers need to develop a specific set of skills that align with the core competencies of leadership, change management, strategic planning, coaching, and training. Here’s how those managers can enhance their recruitment strategy with a focus on sustainability:


People and HR managers must be visionaries, leading the charge towards a more sustainable future. They should be knowledgeable about trends toward purpose-driven roles to attract and retain staff. Leadership in HR must embody the company’s commitment to sustainability, influencing organizational culture and modeling the importance of green skills and sustainable practices.


Understanding the green skills needed in all roles across the organization is crucial. HR managers should have a clear view of the competencies required to drive sustainability initiatives and should ensure that these are integrated into job descriptions and professional development opportunities.


HR managers must be tuned into staff motivations for a more sustainable lifestyle and their interest in understanding climate change. They should facilitate operations that support teams in aligning their personal sustainability goals with their professional roles.

Technical Skills

Building incentive structures and development reviews aligned with the organization's sustainability strategy is key. Additionally, HR should focus on creating unbiased recruitment practices to encourage diversity and delivering training for core green skills.


Creating a culture of organizational and individual learning of green skills tailored to jobs is essential. HR managers should coach and mentor employees through greener sustainability careers, championing organizational sustainability initiatives to create a purpose-driven organization.


HR managers should build future capability in green skills and jobs and manage change that brings the workforce on the sustainable journey. They should be competent in attracting and retaining employees in roles that deliver social value and follow sustainable recruitment processes, minimizing impact.

To embed these skills effectively, HR managers could:

  • Promote Learning and Development: Offer hands-on training programs that educate employees about sustainability fundamentals, climate action, and the social impact of business operations.
  • Incentivize Sustainability: Develop rewards systems that recognize and encourage employees’ sustainable behaviors and contributions to the company’s ESG goals.
  • Implement Inclusive Recruitment: Craft job postings and career paths that highlight the importance of sustainability, attracting candidates who are passionate about making a difference.
  • Integrate ESG into Performance Metrics: Align individual performance KPIs with the company’s ESG objectives to ensure that employees’ contributions to sustainability are measured and rewarded.

By honing these skills, HR managers can play a pivotal role in shaping a workforce that is not only skilled and competitive but also deeply aligned with the sustainability and climate action goals that are critical for the future.

As we navigate this critical decade, the emphasis on learning about sustainability and integrating it into our professional lives has never been more urgent. The drive towards sustainability is reshaping how organizations approach talent acquisition and retention, with a clear message: the future of business is inherently tied to sustainable practices. Companies that recognize and act on this shift not only contribute to a more sustainable world but also position themselves as employers of choice for a workforce increasingly motivated by values and purpose. Engaging in sustainability is not just good for the planet—it's a strategic imperative for attracting and retaining the talent that will drive the future of work.

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