New research highlights the looming ESG skills shortage in APAC

The research shows Asia-Pacific has a major gap of experienced ESG talent when compared with the US and Europe

New research highlights the looming ESG skills shortage in APAC

Global executive search and leadership company DHR Global, this month released research that indicates a looming crisis in ESG talent shortage across the APAC region. The research shows Asia-Pacific is at a nascent stage, with a major gap of experienced ESG talent when compared with the US and Europe.

“ESG is early on in its maturation cycle,” explained Tim Wiseman, managing partner at DHR. “As you would expect, somewhat intuitively, these industries mature and the Asia-Pacific region tends to lag on some of these things, but it's also very quick to adopt and implement.”

Wiseman notes that there has been ESG reporting and regulation increases across all of APAC and there is a lot of mid-level ESG roles across the region however those roles need to be elevated to the c-suite to come in line with the expectations of investors, corporations and consumers as well as government regulatory requirements.

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“Let’s talk the Paris Climate Accord, there are countries coming together saying we’re going to do a better job of being partners in our society and being part of the community, so some of it is regulatory. But there's also a lot of pressure from the investment community, millennials are now starting to earn decent income, and they’re starting to invest, but they're being very targeted with their personal savings and investments. And ESG is one of the things that they're looking for.

But with ESG being a new concept that isn’t comprehensively taught in universities yet coupled with a severe global talent shortage, how do organisations find qualified and experienced talent who can bring these skills to the table?

Wiseman suggests looking at your current talent and identifying the employees that have the skills to be elevated to those position. “There are very few colleges and universities that are teaching ESG as a primary skillset, so looking for people within your current team that have the six core attributes, get them prepped and elevate them.”

The six core attributes of an ESG role

  1. Innovative thinking and an ability to work with customers, start-ups and other stakeholders to find innovative ways to accelerate progress towards sustainability goals.
  2. Ability to clearly articulate the vision to share a desired outcome that inspires and energizes the team as they drive change within an organization
  3. Ability to lead through influence and mobilize teams to take action, many of whom are not direct reports
  4. Superior communication skills in order to persuade and influence a diverse range of internal and external stakeholders with different perspectives and objectives
  5. Highly collaborative both internally as well as externally with counterparts eager to carry out this important work
  6. Organizational knowledge and a thorough grounding in the business are also essential attributes

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“The role of the Chief Sustainability Officer calls for a mindset which has the ability to draw together complex issues across functions, superior strategic planning capabilities and an innate sense of curiosity. Strong influencing skills and the ability to drive change are also key.”

“All organisations have constraints,” continued Wiseman, “but they’re going to start feeling the pressure if they don’t get in front of this, otherwise their competitors are going to get in front of it and they’re going to be using it as PR push and they’re going to use it for the investor community, they’re going to get better recognition from regulatory agencies and governments, they’re up chain and down chain suppliers, they’re going to see that and they’re going to be steered towards organisations that are already living in this space.

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