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Cobalt launches dedicated ESG recruitment division

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Article posted by Olivia Marsdale

We are proud to launch our dedicated ESG recruitment division for the real estate sector. As the importance of ESG in the built environment gathers pace, more and more firms are looking to hire specialists in this incredibly important area.

It’s an area we have in the past supported our clients with, but on an ad-hoc basis. However, at Cobalt, we have recognised the importance of ESG within our own operations, and so it felt the right time to establish a dedicated team of experienced recruiters to support our clients with their hiring needs, and to guide job seekers with their career moves.

Setting up the ESG team are myself, Olivia Marsdale and Simon Jobson. We each have over 10 years’ recruitment experience, established reputations in the market, and fully understand the complexities and challenges of the real estate sector. We have experience in perm and interim recruitment, and can pivot and adapt our skills to the challenges hiring firms are facing. We are passionate about this area and supporting those in the built environment when it comes to our ESG hires.

What is ESG?

For those who don’t know, ESG stands for Environmental, Social, Governance. Here are some examples and how it relates to the real estate sector:

Environmental – e.g. climate change, pollution, natural resources, recycling & waste. For real estate, this primarily focuses on the energy efficiency and emissions of buildings.

Social – e.g. human capital and social opportunities. What is a building’s impact on society, such as the health and wellbeing of tenants and the local community?

Governance – e.g. reporting, diversity, culture, reputation. Not just for the building owner, but tenants, management companies and other on-site staff.

There are also a number of legal and policy changes against which real estate firms will be measured going forwards, pushing for greener solutions and investments. BREEAM, LEED, WELL and the newly emerging NABERS UK are all green ratings systems against which buildings will be assessed. There is also the change to building minimum EPC ratings (from E up to B) which commercial property owners must achieve by 2030. Not to mention numerous new reporting standards which firms must meet, to name a few changes.

Why now?

A few years ago, this was simply referred to by many as ‘sustainability’. And while ESG functions might have been around for a little longer in other sectors, the reality is that it’s a fairly new concept in the real estate sector. Very few firms have either a strategy in place or dedicated people to deliver on it. Sadly, over the last few years, ESG has often been a bit of an after-thought, with many firms simply adding the duties onto other people’s jobs, rather than hiring a dedicated person for it. But things are changing!

Why it’s important to your business

We all know that change must happen throughout all sectors and walks of life if we’re to mitigate the worst possible outcomes of climate change, and real estate is a big part of that, with some of the highest emissions of any sector. But ESG goes much bigger and deeper than just the ‘E’ part and it can be frustrating for those working in this area when it’s not viewed properly.

But beyond that, it just makes good business sense. If your building(s) are more ESG compliant, they’ll be worth more. It’s a safer bet in terms of any investment and it will be more valuable to a future potential buyer. If you’ve failed to ensure your properties are compliant and to the standard, they need to be, when you come to sell them further down the line, the value of the property will be significantly less. A new buyer will not wish to spend money getting it up to the standard it should be. It’s about future-proofing your business and your property assets.

Who do I need to hire?

If you’ve not hired in the ESG space before then it can be somewhat confusing to know who to hire, at what level, what skills to look for, how much to pay them, and where this person will sit in your organisation structure and who will they report to. These are all important considerations to ensure ESG is a success in your company.

The answer to these questions will of course depend on the size of your firm and how committed you are to ESG, and what you hope to achieve. Do you already have a strategy in place, or are you at the beginning of this journey? And this is where we can help. Our consultants have the breadth of experience to help you navigate this journey and to find the ideal talent to make your ESG hire a successful one.

Here are some example ESG roles:

  • Head of ESG / Sustainability

  • Sustainability / ESG Policy Manager

  • Analysts – ESG Analyst / Research Analyst

  • Associate and Senior Associate

  • BREEAM Co-ordinator/Assessor/Manager

How to overcome the limited talent pool

As we’ve said, this is a fairly new specialism when it comes to the real estate sector. Candidates tend to fall into one of two camps: they are either an ESG professional not working in this sector, or they are real estate professionals who want to focus on ESG. The talent pool of those with extensive experience of delivering this specifically within the built environment is therefore still quite limited.

But the good news is that there are talented ESG professionals out there. Those from outside the sector will bring new ideas and approaches for how to do things – they won’t just settle for “that’s how we’ve always done it”. They’ll also be able to knowledge share with others in the sector to help enrich the talent pool further.

There are also many ESG professionals out there who feel they are not being heard in their current role and business. It’s driving many to want to move firms and look for roles where they can have a bigger impact and truly drive change. A real opportunity for those firms who are serious about ESG and can offer a compelling role for those wanting to make a difference.

Put ESG on your radar

If ESG isn’t yet on your radar, then it absolutely should be. There is mounting public and political pressure on the real estate sector to engage with and report on all things ESG-related. Those operating in the built environment can no longer afford to just stick their head in the sand on this one. The companies who are really embracing this are open to change. Those firms not taking this seriously will simply get left behind.

Need help hiring an ESG professional or to make a move?

Contact Olivia Marsdale or Simon Jobson for an initial chat about your ESG requirements – we’d love to help.