Photo created via Canva In 2020, the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic changed people's…
The Need for Recruitment in Climate Change
Believe it or not, climate change is real, and it has been around for quite a long time. Unfortunately, we have not paid too much attention to it due to some people’s skepticism or denial despite evidence-based data from numerous scientists worldwide.
As of 2021, scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system based on an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report. Many of the climate-related changes observed are unknown in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years. Some are already taking place (e.g., continued sea-level rise) and potentially irreversible.
Climate change issues are so pressing that 196 parties adopted a legally binding international treaty on climate change at COP 21 in Paris on December 12, 2015, and entered into force on November 4, 2016. Nations involved in this agreement aim to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
Although The Working Group I report (i.e., one out of six assessment reports of the IPCC, which will be completed in 2022) already provides updated estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5°C in the next decades, limiting warming close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be unattainable unless there are immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Why is this so important? Why should we prioritize climate change, especially now that we are facing another unprecedented event (i.e., COVID-19)? We must remember that apart from environmental and health issues associated with climate change, long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns affect employment. The International Labor Organization (ILO) explained that one of the negative impacts of climate change is job losses, which occur both in rural and urban labor markets. These are due to greater incidence of heavy precipitation and/or extreme heat resulting in damage to agricultural crops and greater incidence of extreme weather events resulting in worker displacement and damage to business assets, transport and industrial infrastructure, and settlements.
On the other hand, ILO also believes that adaptation measures can lead to employment gains and the prevention of job losses. We can reap its positive effects through adaptation infrastructure and reforestation investment since it increases demand for construction to reduce climate-related risks.
ILO also pointed out there will be a just transition if there are accompanying and enabling policies to maximize the positive employment effect of the transition to a climate-resilient economy. Moreover, social protection and skills development policies increase adaptive capacities and protect individuals and communities affected by natural hazards from income and food insecurity.
In my view (and correct me if I am wrong), the equation goes like this:
Climate change effects = job losses = implementation of adaptation measures = creation of new jobs
Now, what seems to be missing here? New climate-related jobs mean opportunities to fill new positions.
In the US alone, making investments in natural resources protection and restoration can create over 700,000 jobs and grow the country’s natural carbon sink. Meanwhile, investing in climate-smart agriculture can play a lead role in driving billions of dollars into rural communities. The US Department of the Interior recently released a campaign called, “America the Beautiful” with a goal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands, waters, and oceans by 2030. This campaign also calls for job creation by investing in restoration and resilience.
This is where recruitment comes in. The opportunity to vie for climate change experts is on. In a world where the effects of climate change are becoming more prevalent and people are starting to realize the importance of taking immediate actions and smart choices, how will you compete with other reputable international organizations in convincing highly qualified talents in joining your cause? How will you increase organizational interest to fill the gap in employment?
Before we dig deeper, did you know that business leaders agree that environmental-sustainability efforts have a positive impact on employee morale and well-being (84%), as well as employee recruitment and retention (77%)? These figures came from Deloitte 2022 CxO Sustainability Report: The disconnect between ambition and impact, a survey of over 2,000 C-level executives across 21 countries.
However, the employees may not be impressed by this. Based on the 2021 Millennial and Generation Z Survey, while climate change and protecting the environment is a top concern among Gen Zs and millennials, less than half of the surveyed participants think business is having a positive impact on society. About 60% fear that businesses’ commitment to the environment will be less of a priority as leaders focus on challenges related to COVID 19.
The question now is, what can organizations do to turn the employees’ ambition into action, and turn this action into impact? How can they develop their climate commitments that will improve recruitment and retention?
According to WWF, it all starts with educating senior leaders and the board on how they can assess the impact of a changing climate on the business and the business’ impact on the climate. Only by then, we can earn the buy-in and influence of the senior leaders, which will prompt actions that will make a noticeable difference and effect meaningful transformation.
Organizations can also ignite the Millennials’ and Gen Zs’ interests by empowering them to act as climate changemakers. By engaging and educating employees on climate change impacts, organizations can guide their people in making positive climate choices, wherever they may be, while magnifying these actions through their networks. Furthermore, organizations will earn the trust of their stakeholders if there are leaders that build on credible climate commitments and integrate sustainability into every part of the organization.
We are in a time when it is imperative to combat climate change by taking bold actions resulting in measurable impacts to expedite the pace of intervention. It’s not yet too late. Tenaciously addressing challenges brought by climate change not only improves the world we live in but also increases an organization’s advantage in securing competent talents. If you are able to show employees your genuine interest in reducing and mitigating risks of climate change and by continuously improving and strengthening your climate change commitments, it will be easier for you to attract like-minded, talented individuals and fill the employment gap.