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How sustainability marketing can help employer branding for better talent acquisition and retention

While ESGs and CSRD have been on everyone’s lips for a minute now, there’s still limited talk on how effective employer branding can leverage sustainability marketing and affect a business’ appeal to potential employees. 

This is expected to become a growing concern for employers, as recent data show how the new generation of jobseekers has growing demands in terms of companies’ environmental and social commitment. Which is why it’s important to make sure your business looks (and does) its best!

What is employer branding
and why is it so important

Employer branding includes all kinds of marketing activities an organization engages in to promote itself as an attractive employer to jobseekers. This is important both for future and current employees: firstly, to attract talented professionals and convince them to choose you over other companies as their new place to work. And secondly, to keep current employees happy and proud, creating a higher level of engagement and satisfaction with their job. 

In the current state of the labor market, with many industries struggling to find skilled workforce, applicants are looking at something more than paychecks and benefits. Things like company values, organizational culture, and the employer’s reputation in general are becoming more and more decisive as job selection criteria - which is where a strong employer branding becomes the ace up your sleeve.

The influence of sustainability marketing on employer branding 

According to a recent study by IBM Institute for Business Value, only 21% of employees consider themselves satisfied with the sustainability commitment of their employer.  

At the same time, more than half of the study’s respondents say environmental sustainability is more important to them today than it was just one year ago. This discrepancy opens up the potential for many people leaving their job to seek a company that’s more aligned with their values - a growing trend in the job market.

But what are the current criteria and factors leading the workforce’s changing choices? Let’s take a look at some data:

1. Sustainability as a key job search criteria 

Two out of three jobseekers say they are more willing to apply (67%) and accept (68%) a job with a company they deem as sustainable. Employees-to-be are looking at three factors in particular

  • Being proud of the company they work for (29%)
  • Ensuring the protection of the planet for future generations (29%)
  • Having a positive impact on the environment (24%)

2. Sustainable employer branding as an ultimate choice factor 

When it comes to eventually choosing a new job, employees are also walking the walk: one in three (35%) of those who changed jobs last year accepted a position with an environmentally-committed employer. On top of that, one in three of those who changed jobs also accepted a lower salary to be able to work for a sustainable organization, with an average pay cut of 28%.

"Respondents have signaled they're willing to commit personal resources and give up conveniences to protect the planet, and we're finally seeing their aspirations and actions merge. [...] But they need businesses to help break down the persistent barriers that are impeding them from making the most sustainable choices possible.

- Sheri Hinish, global lead, IBM Consulting Sustainability Services

3. Environmental commitment creates a more engaged staff 

Looking at best practices on the market, Patagonia stands out as a sustainability leader with its employer branding. The company promotes many initiatives to encourage and reward employees for living more sustainably, such as offering paid ‘environmental leave’ to dedicate to humanitarian or environmental projects. As a result of these policies 91% of employees at Patagonia say it is a great place to work, compared to an average of 57% for US companies, and its commitment to the environment is stated as one of the top reasons why.

Klimato’s clients also show how committing to sustainability and proudly showing that to the world can result in a more engaged staff, as it was the case with ForSea, a sustainable company operating ferries between Sweden and Denmark, transporting around 7 million people per year:

“We have gone from being a very traditional shipping company where everything looked the same for decades to today having succeeded in accelerating the change and getting the staff with us.” 

- Alexander Gerencser, Head of Food & Beverage at ForSea

Eyes on the future  

What does the future of the labor market look like? It’s hard to tell, but it seems that Millennials and Gen Z in particular won’t be willing to settle for companies that don’t match their values.

According to Deloitte’s Global Millennials and Gen Z Survey, one third of them would go as far as cutting ties with a company lacking ethical behavior. In fact, nearly half (49%) of Gen Z’ers allow their personal values to influence the job and organization they choose for their career.

“Organizations that are not aligned with millennial and Gen-Z values risk losing favor with this large and increasingly influential cohort. Business leaders can and should help drive meaningful change on the issues that matter most to these groups, like racial justice, inequality and climate change.”

- Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global Deputy CEO and Chief People & Purpose Officer

In this scenario, it’s no wonder employers are doubling up on their sustainability marketing in order to attract and keep the best talents for themselves, evolving together with a more environmentally-conscious workforce.

Feel like you’re lagging behind? Fear not, Klimato is here to help with a tailor-made solution to tackle your sustainability goals, provide you with trustworthy, organic data, and communicate them effectively to your desired target. 


Thomsen et al., 2011
Yasin et al., 2022


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