Three Key Considerations For Creating Corporate Climate Roles

Two in five corporate leaders (42%) report that a lack of climate-related expertise is a huge or significant obstacle for their net zero strategy (see Verdantix Global Corporate Survey 2023: Net Zero Budgets, Priorities and Tech Preferences). Organizations are in desperate need of skilled climate professionals, but the nascency of these roles are leading many to hire from traditional academia and governance positions. Firms looking to establish or expand climate-dedicated teams should consider three things:

  • One: the expertise/experience trade-off.
    As there is not a long tradition of corporate climate roles, senior professionals from academic or governance backgrounds often lack vital industry experience. Deep insight into climate issues and a clear understanding of corporate practices are two crucial criteria for effective senior climate-related hires, but finding candidates who deliver on both is difficult.

  • Two: geographical concentration.
    Academic and governance professionals tend to be clustered in hubs that are geographically distanced from corporate search areas or headquarters. For example, two key employers of climate-dedicated professionals in Germany – the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the UNFCCC – are based in Bonn, a small university-dominated city that contributes less than 0.7% of Germany’s overall GDP.

  • Three: misalignment in academic and corporate agendas.
    Corporate climate professionals require knowledge of industry-specific impacts, scenario modelling methodologies and practical adaptation solutions. Meanwhile, academic research often focuses on the causal science, politics and social aspects of climate change. Candidates from academic backgrounds are unlikely to have experience analysing or addressing climate challenges specific to corporate organizations. This can exacerbate the skills gap in corporate climate teams.

While these factors may prove challenging, understanding them is the first step for business leaders in navigating the talent landscape and addressing skills or experience gaps in their climate teams.

Alastair Foyn

Alastair is an Analyst in the Verdantix Net Zero and Climate Risk practice. His current research agenda focuses on climate risk management software and carbon markets. Prior to joining Verdantix, Alastair worked at Tyler Grange Ltd where he gained experience in consultancy practices and environmental strategy. Alastair holds a First Class BSc in Biological Sciences from Durham University as well as an MSc in Sustainable Development from the University of St Andrews.