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CSR job vacancies jump by 74% as companies pledge to fight climate change

The number of CSR-related job roles advertised this year has increased by 74% since last year, and by 54% when compared to 2019 (pre-pandemic). In fact, May 2021 was the second-busiest CSR recruitment drive on record.

The findings come from a new report from global recruiter Robert Walters – ESG: Mindset Over Must – A Review of Labour Market Trends in an ESG-focussed era – which analyses key labour trends related to the heighted focus on the environment, social affairs, and corporate governance.

  • 74% increase in CSR jobs since 2020, and 54% increase since 2019
  • 28% of CSR vacancies is for senior roles – up from 7%
  • Half of FTSE link pay and bonus to ESG goals
  • A quarter of CSR hires comes from consumer goods industry
  • 40% of all CSR-roles is advertised within London
  • 400% increase in Midlands and 150% increase in North West of CSR-roles
  • No. of remote CSR roles doubles in the last year


Consumer Goods & Services continues to be the industry leading the way on recruitment of sustainability experts – accounting for 23% of all CSR-professional vacancies this year, a fall from 20% in 2020 and 25% in 2019.

Chris Poole, Managing Director of Robert Walters UK comments:

“Right now, businesses are under more scrutiny than ever. Processes, suppliers, materials, and policies often have more of an impact on consumer actions than a finished product. As governments strive to achieve environmental targets, and the choice widens for customers on socially-conscious products and services – ESG will increasingly become more critical for survival, and not just for investment.”

Other industries which have maintained their recruitment drive in this area include Real Easte & Construction, Professional Services, Technology, Media & Telecoms (TMT) and Financial Services – which represents 19%, 13%, 11% and 8% of CSR-vacancies this year respectively.

Perhaps what is most surprising to see is that the Energy & Utilities sector advertised 9% of all CSR-related jobs, followed by 5% from the Public Sector and 2% from Healthcare.

However it is important to note that whilst CSR recruitment may be less representative in such sectors, hiring for this role has increased from near 0% within Public Sector and Energy & Utilities.

Within Healthcare, hiring for CSR-specialists skyrocketed by 100% between 2019 to 2020, indicating that the majority of their hiring spree took place during the pandemic.

Daniel Connors, Associate Director of Robert Walters UK adds:

“The impact of global warming has hit a number of industries hard this year – including financial services and insurance – where the damage caused by recent hurricanes, wildfires, and floods, presents risk factors for location of offices and even towards potential investors.”


In a move that signals more conversations are being had about sustainability in the boardroom, senior or top-level hires have increased from 7% in 2019 to represent 28% of all CSR-related hires in 2021.

Last week at COP26, 60 of the FTSE100 companies signed up to a pledge to stop their contribution to climate change by 2050. In addition, nearly half of the FTSE100 already link executive pay and bonus structures to environmental, social and governance (ESG) measures – with this expected to rise in the coming years.

Craig Howells – Principal Consultant at Robert Walters states:

“Some thought that in a global crisis, ESG targets would be the first to go. However, many companies strengthened their commitment to ESG during the pandemic. The suggestion also that people would care more about jobs and rocketing government debt over, for example, more socially conscious behaviour, appears misplaced.”


When breaking down the figures by region, London continues to dominate on the hiring front representing 40% of all CSR-related vacancies this year, followed by the North West (9%), and The Midlands (9%).

However other regions are in fact making gains on London, where in the capital the number of CSR-related roles has decreased by 45% in the past year we have seen job vacancies increase exponentially in other areas of the UK including in The Midlands (+400%), North West (+150%), Scotland (+100%), and South West (+33%).

Not surprising to see is the increase is location agnostic or 100% remote roles increasing by +100% in the past year, as the impact of the pandemic combined with a candidate shortage continues to be felt.

Daniel O’Leary – Business Director at Robert Walters comments:

“Businesses which are failing to meet the expected ESG performance standards should expect to see a knock-on impact on their reputation. As a workforce strategy, ESG has become a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent; numerous studies have shown that, when weighing up potential employers, millennials are hugely influenced by how a business responds to and tackles social issues.”


Some 90% of Irish companies consider ESG in their strategic and operational decision-making process, whilst 93% have a dedicated sustainability lead within the firm – of which 66% are at the executive level.

In spite of the focus on ESG, CSR-specific recruitment in the Republic of Ireland so far has remained relatively niche in comparison to other ESG-related roles such as Diversity & Inclusion and Corporate Governance.

In fact, the largest firms in Ireland recorded only 23 CSR vacancies in the first half of 2021 – with the consumer goods and services sector recording the most roles (30%), and an overall tilt to senior roles (35%).

Robert Walters defines CSR roles by the following job responsibilities, as displayed in job adverts:

  • Developing policies relating to a company’s ethical, sustainable, and environmental responsibilities
  • Ensuring a company has a positive impact on local communities and the environment
  • Raising public awareness of a company’s social responsibility commitments through marketing and communications
  • Conducting research into best practice
  • Writing and actioning a company’s social responsibility and sustainability strategy
  • Creating meaningful partnerships with clients, employees, suppliers, charities, and other groups
  • Ensuring that a company’s policies meet legal and commercial needs
  • Organising meaningful events for employees and their teams
  • Encouraging links between the company and educational or charitable groups
  • Reporting on social responsibility activity to senior managers and/or board.


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