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Navigating the ESG Skills Gap: A Call to Action for Businesses

Date Posted: 13 November, 2023

In a recent report by The Open University, the glaring gap between ESG awareness and practical implementation within businesses has come to light. Despite nearly 80 per cent of organisations acknowledging the impact of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors on their brand and reputation, only 8 per cent have a fully realised ESG strategy. The study, which surveyed over 500 UK businesses, reveals that financial constraints, lack of essential skills, and perceived complexity act as significant blockers in translating awareness into action.

Unveiling the ESG Skills Gap

The report spotlights a critical ESG skills gap, with 80 per cent of businesses engaged in ESG admitting a lack of necessary skills across the three ESG pillars. This gap is further widened by inflation and rising business costs, exerting pressure on learning and development budgets. While UK business leaders unanimously prioritise ESG, the challenge lies in crafting effective training plans to equip their teams with the essential skills required to meet ESG objectives.

In response to these challenges, the report serves as a guiding light for businesses embarking on their ESG journeys. Offering insights and advice from ESG experts, it encourages business leaders to take proactive measures:

  1. Education: Empower yourself and your team with the knowledge needed to navigate the complexities of ESG.
  2. Goal Measurement: Establish clear and measurable ESG goals to track progress and ensure accountability.
  3. Advocacy: Utilize your voice and platform to advocate for ESG strategies that align with your business values.

Dr. Victoria Hands, Director of Sustainability at The Open University, emphasises the critical role of ESG in shaping the success and profitability of modern organisations. She notes that while ESG conversations are becoming more frequent across businesses of all sizes, the key lies in implementing strategies to develop ESG-related skills and future-proof businesses, workforces, and communities.

Phil Kenmore, Director of Corporate Development and Partnerships at The Open University, underscores the importance of awareness and investment in appropriate training programs. Businesses can choose from various approaches, including microcredentials, professional development courses, degree apprenticeships, and free learning platforms like OpenLearn.

As the business landscape pivots towards ESG excellence, the question echoes: How will your business contribute to the transformative journey towards sustainability and responsible practices?


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