Recruit and Onboard


Adapt recruiting practices to attract and select candidates that can deliver on your value chain sustainability efforts. Ensure that sustainability is meaningfully integrated into each employee's onboarding process.

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By being attentive to recruitment and onboarding, you can build a team of people who are trusted, empowered, and intrinsically motivated to drive sustainability across your value chain.

Recruit and select sustainability-driven talent

Ensure your team is recruiting for the experience and sustainability competencies you need. To do this, seek to balance traditional analytic procurement minds on your team with more relational and holistic thinkers. Relevant skills include critical reflection, strategic and systems thinking, creativity, relationship building, and understanding of sustainability issues.1, 2, 3, 4 Consider also expanding your talent search to include a diversity of backgrounds and experiences. This may include talent from other departments that have relevant transferable skills.

To attract the right candidates, you need to clearly communicate your commitment to sustainability and your sustainability talent needs. This starts with emphasizing sustainability throughout the recruitment process. It includes reflecting on what skills, tasks, and expectations are listed in your recruitment materials and job descriptions. It also applies to your evaluation criteria, which should incorporate sustainability competencies.

EXAMPLE: Recruitment for sustainability alignment

CPO and SPP Ambassador, Rob Alexander, highlights the value of integrating sustainability into recruitment.5 His approach ensures that new hires drive the company's sustainable supply chain goals. As he puts it, "We were looking for people that absolutely loved the sustainability agenda, understood what was happening, but had the passion, had the soft skills around partnering... asking how we take this agenda and actually make it work with our supply chain."

EXAMPLE: Scenario-based recruitment

A large grocery chain recruits for procurement roles emphasising the "3 P's: people, processes, and how to develop a change program.” It also seeks to create resilience and diversity in its teams.6 Using scenario-based interviews, candidates were asked to reflect on personal buying decisions, such as how they would go about buying a new car. Engaging in thoughtful research and considering sustainability were used as indicators of desired procurement skills.

EXAMPLE: Hiring for sustainability fit

An apparel company with a strong sustainability reputation hires almost exclusively based on alignment with a sustainability-driven culture by seeking candidates who demonstrate conviction in the sustainability-focused business purpose and vision.7

Onboard for sustainability

Every touch point in the onboarding process should reinforce your commitment to sustainable value chains. As you design your onboarding process, consider the core knowledge and skills everyone in your team needs, like understanding the organisation’s value chain sustainability goals and aspirations, the core processes and practices that underpin sustainability, and where to access more information on sustainability. New hires should be introduced to the sustainability champions in their groups so they know where to turn when they have questions. You will also want to direct new hires to additional resources where they can gain further sustainability insights, knowledge, and skills.

4 Ways to Attract Top Sustainability Talent cover

4 Ways to Attract Top Sustainability Talent

This short article from Sharon Houde at Sustainable Brands provides easy entry points for attracting, retaining, and empowering sustainability professionals. This resource can be applied to procurement and supply chain-related recruitment where sustainability skillsets are needed.

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ProcurCompEU: European Competency Framework for Public Procurement Professionals

A framework for assessing procurement skills and competencies, including procurement planning, market analysis, contract management, and supplier relationship management, highlights the importance of sustainable procurement and the need for procurement professionals to integrate environmental, social, and ethical considerations into their work.

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Next-Generation Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Jobs

As industries embrace and embed sustainability into their planning, processes, and culture, a new imperative has emerged to transition the role and skills - and job description - of CSR and sustainability professionals from an operational to a strategic focus. This briefing provides ideas and examples that will help you to inform and adjust job description updates and performance and professional development plans, and will be particularly helpful for sustainability practitioners and recruitment professionals.

Is Corporate Social Responsibility Part Of Your Recruiting Emphasis cover

Is Corporate Social Responsibility Part Of Your Recruiting Emphasis

This article will help you to understand the potential of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a tool for employers to recruit and attract strong talent. According to the article, employees are becoming more socially selective when searching for a job, and have a growing preference for employers whose CSR practices align with their beliefs. The article also illustrates three ways that businesses can incorporate CSR results and key messages into their recruiting practices.

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Leadership for the Decade of Action

This short report will help you to embed sustainability into your leadership culture. Written by the United Nations Global Compact and Russell Reynolds Associates, it identifies leadership attributes that are critical for enacting sustainability-related transformations at the necessary level and scale. The report is informed by in-depth interviews with 55 sustainability pioneers, including chief executives and board members, and would be of particular benefit to reflective, growth-oriented leaders, and to HR teams seeking to hire and develop new leaders.