India has seen a 223 per cent surge in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance)-related jobs between April 2019 and April 2023, showcasing a significant shift towards sustainability and corporate responsibility within the Indian job market.

“This can be attributed to several factors,” Sashi Kumar, Head of Sales, Indeed India, said. “Firstly, companies are increasingly recognising the importance of sustainability and incorporating ESG principles into their operations. Secondly, there is a growing demand from consumers and stakeholders for businesses to prioritise environmental and social responsibility. Lastly, the younger generation’s emphasis on environmental and social concerns is driving companies to prioritise sustainability and create more job opportunities in this area.”

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Munira Loliwala, Assistant Vice President at TeamLease Digital, said that while the ESG sector continued to witness substantial growth, the sector was still in a nascent stage in terms of processes and regulatory compliance

Opportunities abound

The ESG sector offers a range of job opportunities across industries.

“Some of the job profiles in the ESG sector that we see gaining traction include sustainability manager, social impact manager, ESG analyst, governance & compliance specialist, etc.” Sachin Alug, CEO, NLB Services said.

Industry watchers said professionals are expected to possess knowledge in environmental science, policy, economics, finance, sustainability reporting, quantitative analysis, asset management, and financial markets understanding. 

Loliwala said that the sector offered promising careers, and that it attracted talent from diverse educational backgrounds, such as commerce, law, finance, environmental sciences, and psychology. The salaries for ESG roles are competitive, with analysts starting at about ₹4.5-5.5 lakh and managers earning an average of ₹12-15 lakh, potentially going up to ₹30 lakh for higher degrees, depending on qualification and experience.

Loliwala added that the top countries in ESG hiring besides India were Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. 

‘Green’ jobs

Increasing job opportunities in the sector have helped spur awareness among job seekers. 

Kumar said, “With a 31 per cent increase in job searches for sustainability roles between April 2022 and 2023, awareness about these job opportunities is on the rise, indicating a growing interest among job seekers. As more companies adopt ESG practices and prioritise sustainability, people are becoming more aware of career prospects and the chance to contribute to environmental and social causes.

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Government policies related to ‘green’ jobs and ‘green’ hydrogen have contributed to raising awareness about opportunities.  

Further, reskilling and repurposing existing employees at all levels of an organisation to incorporate sustainability into their roles is also important, Sambitosh Mohapatra, ESG expert at PwC said. Whil there may not be many experienced professionals dedicated to sustainability at the top level, companies are undertaking initiatives to educate themselves about it, he added.

The road ahead

The current trend of growth in the ESG sector is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. Mohapatra said that the demand for sustainability professionals will likely increase by more than 100 per cent over the next decade. There is optimism about the future of sustainability as a career path while comparing it to the perpetual demand for technology professionals, he added.  

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He added that companies investing in sustainability expertise can lead to long-term career growth and opportunities, as sustainability becomes one of the critical lenses through which organisations assess their strategies and operations. 

The sector’s long-term growth prospects make it an attractive choice for young people seeking to create a meaningful impact in environmental and social domains. Kumar said, “The long-term nature of environmental and social challenges ensures that the need for individuals with expertise in sustainable practices will persist, making the ESG sector a promising field for job seekers and a vital aspect of business success.”