One of Asia’s first specialist sustainability recruitment firms has opened for business in Singapore as demand for jobs in the environmental, social and governance (ESG) space grows in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Acre, which was founded in London by British zoology graduate Andy Cartland in 2003, will use Singapore as its Asia Pacific base as it looks to service clients around the region.
Cartland said the time was right to launch in Asia, as the region is experiencing rapid growth in demand for sustainability talent and skills.
Acre posts candidates working in sustainability, impact investing, health and safety, and energy and clean technology, and will be compete with other firms that offer ESG recruitment services, such as NextWave, Formative Search, and Odgers Berndtson.
“Asia is arguably behind Europe and the United States when it comes to sustainability. But the region is moving at light speed to catch up. We want to be part of this transition,” Cartland told Eco-Business.
He noted that the business took a 20 per cent revenue hit in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, but 2021 saw the business rebound and revenue and headcount grow by 100 per cent, which has enabled the company to expand to Asia.
“We are on track for similar growth this year as well,” he said.
Singapore will be Acre’s third overseas launch, with it having established a European operation in Amsterdam and a North American hub in New York in recent years.
Acre’s Singapore launch will enable the company to service existing multinational clients with operations in the region, and also local companies in the global supply chain.
The company’s past work in Asia includes recruiting a leadership team for the Bangladesh Accord, a coalition of global brands, retailers and trade unions set up in 2013 to improve health and safety in Bangladesh’s garment industry.
Among the candidates Acre has placed recently include the global environment, health and safety director at Amazon, and the executive director of the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), a Swiss non-profit working to tackle child labour in the cocoa sector.
Cartland, who will move from London to Singapore in August to oversee the launch, has appointed an executive director for the Singapore office, who has yet to resign from his current job and will relocate from Hong Kong.
Acre’s Asia launch comes a month after a report by business social network LinkedIn showed 30 per cent growth in hiring for green jobs between 2016 and 2021, with a spike in sustainability recruitment between 2020 and 2021.
The report also highlighted a shortage of talent for ESG roles in the region.
Cartland said that while there is a large talent pool of sustainability professionals in London, candidates in Asia, where the sustainability sector is less developed, are harder to find.
“Asia faces a different candidate sourcing challenge, and we will need to help clients navigate the [ESG] skills gap,” he said. “Our role is to find people where they’re tough to find.”
This will may involve thinking creatively about transitioning people out of non-sustainability roles, he said.
Acre is aiming to double its Asia operation by its second year, following the growth trajectories of its European and American businesses, Cartland said.
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