In today's competitive job market, companies are finding that environmental sustainability is not only essential for the planet but also a key factor in attracting and retaining top talent. By prioritizing sustainability practices, businesses can foster a workplace that resonates with prospective employees seeking purpose-driven organizations.


Employees are a company's greatest asset, with studies showing they account for up to 85% of a company's assets. That is why attracting top talent is critical for driving market growth and innovation. Ensuring your company can attract top talent should be a leading business priority.


Companies need to leverage sustainability experts and initiatives to bring in and retain talented individuals while building a thriving workforce that aligns with their values.


The Importance of Sustainability in Attracting Employees

Sustainability has emerged as a key criterion for job seekers when evaluating potential employers. In fact, 69% of job seekers state that a company's environmental record plays a role in which company they join. Of that, 24% consider it a "major factor" in their decision. Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword; it has become a non-negotiable aspect for many candidates.


One reason behind this shift in priorities is the growing awareness of the impact of climate change and environmental degradation. Today's employees are more environmentally conscious and seek to work for organizations that share their values.


Millennials are leading the way. As of 2016, Millennials accounted for 35% of the U.S. labor force, and on the global scale, this will increase to 75% by 2025 largely driven by older workers retiring. Millennials are the most environmentally conscious demographic, and 96% state they are very concerned about the environment. Furthermore, 25% of millennial workers say they will quit their job if their employer has a poor record of sustainability.


As older workers exit the workforce, attracting younger employees will become even more important. By actively engaging in sustainable practices, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to a better future and attract quality candidates.


Sustainability Attracts Talent, Drives Diversity and Revenue 

In addition to attracting talented employees, sustainability programs can help build a diverse workforce. With just one metric of diversity being race, one-third of Americans report being non-white. Diverse teams are shown to outperform homogenous ones, improving profitability, efficiency, and decision-making.


Diversity is a driver of business growth. Businesses with a diverse workforce are more likely to understand the various needs of their diverse consumer base. Companies with sustainability and diversity programs are 70% more likely to penetrate new markets successfully. Companies with diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue because the diverse teams are more innovative. 


The Rise of Sustainability Positions

Successful sustainability programs are the primary way companies can show consumers and prospective employees that they are an environmentally conscious and inclusive workplace. A team of sustainability experts is pivotal in ensuring the success of these programs, which ultimately drives long-term financial success


For larger companies, developing an in-house sustainability team is one of the best routes to ensuring you can align with the desires of the market and potential employees. One of the most prominent in-house roles is the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), who is responsible for developing and implementing sustainability initiatives within an organization. The CSO is crucial in spearheading sustainability initiatives focusing on environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and corporate governance. Furthermore, their efforts are directly tied to business strategy by providing input on developing consumer awareness of internal sustainability efforts and bolstering the company image. 


As of 2022, 95 Fortune 500 companies had a CSO, which was a three-fold increase compared to the previous year. Additionally, in 2020, global businesses appointed more CSOs than in the last 8 years combined. This is driving significant growth in these companies. For example, Unilever's CSO is playing a critical role in supporting its sustainability-focused brands, which are growing 69% faster than its other brands and creating 75% of the company's growth.  


Additionally, sustainability analysts and carbon reporting analysts are becoming highly sought-after professionals. They are often one step below the CSO and help facilitate the initiatives by assessing the environmental impact of an organization's operations and developing strategies to meet existing sustainability goals. Their expertise is invaluable in ensuring sustainability programs remain on track to meet long-term targets. For smaller businesses, conducting most of the sustainability work in-house is often not feasible. Working with a team of sustainability consultants is an excellent alternative. 


Green Buildings Are Critical for Sustainability Programs

This sentiment remains true in the real-estate sector, which is increasingly under public pressure to improve sustainability. However, it can be challenging to understand how to tackle the business-wide topic of sustainability, particularly for large developers and real estate managers.


An initial baseline sustainability assessment that highlights areas for improvement is a great place to start. From there, a sustainability roadmap can be developed to target high-impact areas and create a plan for reaching long-term sustainability goals. In many cases, green building certifications, like LEED and WELL, will play a critical role in these programs and are one of the best ways for developers to show that they are environmentally conscious.


If you’re thinking about improving your business’s sustainability, reach out to learn how Emerald Built Environment’s Sustainability Roadmap service can get you started down the path to sustainability.

What is a Sustainability Roadmap?