Even the finance sector is now sensitive to ESG criteria and in the last month the demand for sustainable development professionals has tripled.


What ESG jobs are there? The Intelligent Investor
In the financial market, one hears more and more about ESG.

Companies focus on environmental protection, social responsibility and corporate management. Compliance with these criteria has now become a key element in investment decisions and, therefore, for companies the definition of appropriate ESG policies has become an indispensable element of their industrial and financial strategies.

ESG offers new job opportunities

"This evolution", points out Aurora Santese, Manager of the Finance & Legal division of Hunters, a brand of Hunters Group, "has also had a very strong impact on the world of work in recent years, with the introduction of new skills that are required of profiles of financial and technical extraction, but also creating a need for professional figures with specific skills in the ESG field. There is a great need to attract professionals with targeted skills, able to limit what may be the costs due to non-adherence to principles or low ratings. Although this trend potentially affects every sector, real estate, finance, consulting and energy seem to be the most dynamic ones.

Right now, there are excellent opportunities for the ESG & Sustainability Senior Consultant and the ESG Expert. The former, reporting directly to the ESG Manager, deals with the implementation and management of sustainability-related aspects and is the point of reference for more junior colleagues.

In particular, his activities focus on:

  • Conceiving and developing ESG strategies, by assessing the maturity of the company to environmental, social and corporate governance issues, supporting transformation into a Benefit Company or obtaining BCorp certification;
  • Management of reporting and measurement projects to support ESG strategy: ESG Report according to GRI standards, Carbon footprint, Water footprint, Life Cycle Assessment, according to ISO standards;
  • Sustainability risk management;
  • Support in the introduction of governance and organisational models for the alignment of corporate objectives with sustainability objectives.
  • Evaluation of strategy and definition of strategic communication in the field of sustainability;
  • Alignment with European and Italian regulations related to sustainability issues.

Another professional who will be increasingly in demand by companies is the ESG Expert. Within the Institutional Affairs, ESG & Sustainability, Communication & Marketing Department, which is responsible for defining strategies, guidelines, methodologies and tools on the Institutional Relations, ESG & Sustainability and Communication & Marketing fronts, the Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance Expert is responsible for:

  • Contributing to the definition of the ESG strategy;
  • Contributing to the development of new projects on ESG issues;
  • Insight into new trends, regulations, technologies and initiatives on ESG issues;
  • Contributing to the planning and preparation of non-financial reporting: Sustainability Report, Non-financial Declaration (DNF) and Financial Disclosure on Climate Change (TCFD) in accordance with GRI standards.

"The whole sector related to environmental, social and corporate governance," adds Aurora Santese, "offers interesting career opportunities, also at international level, and earnings: the salary for these figures, in fact, is between 30,000 euro per year gross for those with a few years' experience and can reach up to 50,000 for more senior professionals. It is also important to emphasise how, in the post-pandemic work scenario, attention to welfare and wellbeing, together with sustainability issues, represent an integral part of the package of values considered fundamental by candidates'.

Sustainable professions: what the Sustainability Consultant does

This professional figure guides companies in environmental monitoring and the introduction of more efficient production practices. A highly specialised role that will be increasingly in demand by companies in every sector.

Today, companies have begun to realise the need to include the criterion of environmental sustainability among the main guidelines of their activities. The most structured and advanced companies already have a Sustainability division that deals with the analysis and implementation of sustainability strategies, climate change, stakeholder engagement, the drafting of sustainability reports, and verification of compliance with international principles and guidelines.

However, most companies, especially in Italy, do not yet have the necessary skills in-house to systematically put these procedures into practice. This is why there is the figure of the Sustainability Consultant, or Sustainability Advisor (although called differently, the two professional roles are equivalent). A consultant who helps companies to become greener, in particular with a view to making their production chain as circular as possible, and socially and environmentally responsible, by proposing viable solutions for the different needs of people, the environment and business development.

Who is the Sustainability Consultant or Sustainability Advisor?

The Sustainability Consultant or Sustainability Advisor is a consultant who guides companies in identifying sustainable practices. Every activity, from production to distribution, is evaluated in relation to its environmental impact. A Sustainability Consultant can suggest the latest engineering standards in construction, ways to achieve carbon neutrality. More efficient waste management practices or opportunities to switch to the use of renewable or clean energy sources. It can be involved in all or some phases of a project, from planning to construction, from remediation to restoration. It can support the company in developing project networks with corporate and/or institutional entities aimed at creating added value for the community. As well as in the opportunities offered by public funds to support the green revolution.

Main activities

The Sustainability Consultant helps conceptualise, coordinate and supervise sustainability-related practices. He/she can work as a project manager, business developer and trainer of internal teams. In the construction sector, for example, he has an in-depth knowledge of building and energy efficiency principles. In his day-to-day work, he interacts with different actors, such as developers, architects and engineers. The Sustainability Consultant may perform different tasks depending on the context in which the company operates. Some, however, are transversal to their sector. These include

  • developing environmental and social impact assessment studies and projects
  • drafting related technical documentation
  • data collection activities for reporting, the sustainability report, ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) and stakeholder requests
  • managing critical environmental aspects to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations
  • define, coordinate and implement the environmental monitoring plan
  • identify and develop new opportunities, technical proposals and cost estimates
  • redefine processes from a circular perspective
  • identify ways to switch to alternative energies and practices that reduce environmental and noise pollution, water use and carbon emissions
  • support the corporate functions in charge of internal and external communication of sustainability issues.

Skills and training

The Sustainability Consultant must be driven by a strong motivation towards corporate social responsibility, climate change and sustainability issues. The required competences are quite diversified and complex. The Sustainability Consultant is required to have a good knowledge of the energy sector (gas, oil, renewables), of materials and pollutants, as well as of relevant national and international protocols and regulations. In addition to solid basic skills in economics and finance. The Sustainability Consultant must also know how to use various technological tools. In some cases, knowledge of 3D modelling software is required, which is indispensable for developing complex projects.

As far as training is concerned, an excellent starting point is certainly a degree course in environmental engineering. Today, also in Italy, there are also master's and specialisation courses that are mainly oriented towards the economic and managerial dimension. These include, for example, the Executive Master's in Sustainability and Business Innovation at Bologna Business School or the Master's in Corporate Sustainability Strategies at 24 Hour Business School. Normally, even after a specific training course, it is necessary to gain experience in the field, starting with internships and junior positions. This initial period is useful to identify the sectors of greatest interest in which to specialise, before moving on to managerial or freelance roles.

Qualities and skills

What qualities and skills are required of a Sustainability Consultant?  In addition to technical skills, certainly transversal skills in the areas of communication, management, planning and prioritisation. This is an ever-changing field, where new topics arise and changes are constantly being made to existing models. Therefore, consultants must be able to adapt and learn quickly and independently. The company Alpin asked its employees in this role to rank the most important skills. In first place was specialised competence, close behind was willingness to learn followed by interpersonal skills, problem solving and communication skills.

Who is in charge of sustainability in the company?

The figure in charge of leading the company towards this change is the Sustainability Manager. This is a multifaceted, transversal professional figure with many specific competences, called upon to interact with complex processes and relationships.

What is meant by ESG?

ESG. This acronym, when typed into Google, produces the monstrous figure of 201 million results (!): everyone talks about it, but perhaps not everyone knows what it really is. The acronym literally stands for Environmental meaning environmental, Social meaning social and Governance meaning corporate governance.

What are ESG objectives?

ESG rating does not replace traditional rating but is complementary and its purpose is to increase the information available and thus improve ratings and choices.

What does ESG manager do?

This professional figure guides companies in environmental monitoring and the introduction of more efficient production practices. A highly specialised role that will be increasingly in demand by companies in every sector.

Who certifies ESG?

Any company belonging to any business sector can undergo ethical auditing and thus be certified in accordance with ESG schemes.

What are ESG strategies?

This is a qualitative assessment by an analyst of the extent to which various strategies incorporate ESG factors. Our inaugural publication, launched on 17 November 2020, includes 147 funds representing 107 strategies.