Explained byBCG

Upskill the workforce

How to secure the necessary skills and talent to enable your sustainability journey

As you engage your stakeholders and think about aligning your organization to take climate action, a gap analysis can help your company identify which key organizational capabilities may need to be strengthened to achieve your sustainability ambition. These may include resources (e.g., human, financial), skills (e.g., Climate 101, business case for change, roadmapping), systems (e.g., IT, emissions data), and governance (e.g., oversight committees), among others.

As your company embarks on its sustainability journey, it is crucial to have a core group of individuals with the right skills and capabilities in your workforce. These sustainability leaders and champions will be responsible for defining commitments, refining the climate ambition, and mobilizing stakeholders toward a clear and ambitious climate strategy.

The talent needed for this phase includes general athletes: individuals familiar with multiple facets of the company who are eager to learn, incorporate, and infuse sustainability best practices into broader corporate processes. According to a BCG survey, 68% of sustainability leaders at this stage come from within their corporations, indicating that homegrown talent is primarily sought after (see Figure 10).

Figure 10: Sustainability leaders come from within organizations (1), p14.

In this early stage, climate upskilling becomes a growing need due to the nascency of sustainability skills. As general athletes, the core group of sustainability leaders needs to develop multidisciplinary skillsets, particularly in sustainability, transformation, and data and digital sectors. Upskilling efforts should focus on existing employees to quickly move them up the sustainability curve, leveraging on-the-job learning and supplemental resources like published materials and conferences.

While upskilling existing staff is essential, organizations should also consider hiring niche sustainability talent to complement their workforce. This specialized talent can handle technical climate governance issues, such as carbon accounting, which may be challenging to develop in-house rapidly. Additionally, in certain cases, outsourcing selected climate functions on a temporary basis might be considered, though the ultimate goal should be to have all necessary climate skills in-house.

For more information on upskilling throughout your company’s journey, see Learn more: build climate abilities.