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Ep 503: Climate Jobs


The climate emergency is the greatest challenge humans have ever faced, and it affects all of us. In August of last year, as part of The Inflation Reduction Act, the US federal government pledged $365 Billion to fight climate change. Since then, over 100,000 climate jobs have already been created in the US economy. Despite the seriousness of the situation and the obvious relevance to our sector, climate jobs and the climate emergency don’t seem to be things we are discussing. This needs to change.

My guest this week is Natalie Lavery, Marketing Lead at Climate People, a Climate Tech recruiting firm. Climate People are fighting to make every job a climate job. It was brilliant to get Natalie’s insight into a critically important market that is full of opportunity.

In the interview, we discuss:

• The reimagining of the global economy

• What is Climate Tech, and what are Climate Jobs

• Is Climate Tech the future of all jobs

• Barriers to jobseekers taking climate jobs and how to break them down

• Awareness, mindset and incentives

• The importance of diverse talent and diverse voices

• What can we all do to make our jobs climate jobs?

Listen to this podcast in Apple Podcasts.


Willo (0s):
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Willo (44s):
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Matt Alder (Intro) (1m 47s):
Hi there, this is Matt Alder. Welcome to episode 503 of the Recruiting Future Podcast. The climate emergency is the greatest challenge humans have ever faced, and it affects all of us. In August of last year, as part of The Inflation Reduction Act, the US federal government pledged $365 Billion to fight climate change. Since then, over 100,000 climate jobs have already been created in the US economy. Despite the seriousness of the situation and the obvious relevance to our sector, climate jobs and the climate emergency don’t seem to be things we are discussing.

Matt Alder (Intro) (2m 32s):
This needs to change. My guest this week is Natalie Lavery, Marketing Lead at Climate People, a Climate Tech recruiting firm. Climate People are fighting to make every job a climate job. It was brilliant to get Natalie’s insight into a critically important market that is full of opportunity.

Matt Alder (2m 54s):
Hi Natalie and welcome to the podcast.

Natalie Lavery (2m 56s):
Hi. Thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here.

Matt Alder (2m 59s):
An absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Please, could you introduce yourself and tell everyone what you do?

Natalie Lavery (3m 5s):
Yeah, of course. Hi, my name is Natalie Lavery and I am the marketing lead at a Climate Tech recruitment agency called Climate People. I know you’ve likely maybe not heard of Climate Tech or been recently introduced to it because it’s a relatively new industry, but Climate People is a Climate Tech recruitment agency. Yeah, with a mission of mobilizing a workforce transition to get more people working in climate. We hire and recruit for positions across a wide range of climate sectors. And as a marketing lead, I am just in charge of all of our outreach things like this being on the podcast and really just trying to spread the word about the vast amount of opportunities that are in the climate space and how people in all industries can really get involved in it.

Matt Alder (3m 53s):
So tell us more. I’m guessing that lots of people listening will have heard of Climate Tech but may not actually know the details about what it involves or what the scope of it is. So give us a kind of an overview and introduction into the world of Climate Tech.

Natalie Lavery (4m 10s):
Yeah, definitely. So I like to think of Climate Tech as not a vertical, not a sector, but a reimagining of every sector of the global economy. And through that, that’s how you can have technological services. So the way that technology plays in that. So whether that be software as a service, a web-based tool, a physical satellite, the list goes on. Anything that’s really trying to eliminate, repurpose, remove, or reduce the harms of carbon emissions is a Climate Tech product. So these technologies can be industry specific or they can be more general, but essentially climate technologies are any technologies that are decarbonizing the production, reducing waste, and rewriting any of those traditional frameworks that I just touched on.

Matt Alder (4m 55s):
So to dive into this a little bit deeper, what exactly is a climate job?

Natalie Lavery (5m 2s):
Yeah, definitely. So I like to think of like a full-scope example when I think of what a climate job really is. So if you think of a construction engineer for example, they usually, you think of construction engineers as engineers as not in climate at all because they’re engineers. But if you think of a construction engineer from a climate lens, you like to think of someone who’s actively involved in building processes and they could have an insider’s look on ways that they can make buildings more efficient. So that could be through like inventive glass, LED lighting, heat pumps. The list really goes on. So that engineer would be in a climate job. And while that’s not really Climate Tech, that’s a climate job.

Natalie Lavery (5m 45s):
But then the Climate Tech piece comes into play because if you’re the company that is creating a map of different areas that you can buy a house that is built with those green building practices, that would likely be a software. And all of the engineers that are working on that map would be working climate jobs as climate engineers. And the list really can go on. You can have the real estate agents that are selling those houses or the marketing professionals who are trying to market that business itself. So, I really think of any job as a climate job as long as you are working on something that is reducing the harms of carbon emissions.

Matt Alder (6m 24s):
And I think that’s interesting because most people would probably think of climate jobs as scientific or engineering, but effectively you are saying that, you know, these can be jobs right across the sort of the board of professions as it were.

Natalie Lavery (6m 36s):
Yeah, spot on. I’ll say maybe 75% of the job seekers that we work with at climate, people are like, “Oh my goodness, I had no idea that I could work climate job because I’m an engineer, because I’m a product manager, because I’m whatever the job title may be. They really do think that these type of jobs are over-reserved for scientists and environmentalists. And I do think that was true 10 or so years ago, but we have to think of climate change as bad as it is and how it’s affecting everyone. And like I touched on earlier really is climate change is in infiltrating through every sector of the economy and therefore we need to have solutions that combat it from all those different angles.

Natalie Lavery (7m 16s):
So we do need those engineers. We do need those construction people, those real estate agents, really every type of job. So yeah, definitely is a misconception, but part of my role is to combat that.

Matt Alder (7m 29s):
Talk us through the demand for jobs in Climate Tech. What does that look like right now? How has that perhaps grown over the last few years?

Natalie Lavery (7m 37s):
Yeah, definitely. So I have some hard stats on that that I’ll give but just wanted to start again with how Climate Tech is going to become the future of all jobs. So when we think again of climate change and the effects that it’s going to have, like I said, we’re going to have to think of solutions that come from every different industry and every different job. So at Climate People, and I know a lot of other climate-oriented organizations like to say that every job is a climate job, so the demand is massive. But some stats that I can add to supplement that broader statement is that 2022 was the highest-ever funding year for Climate Tech. Over 82 billion is raised and that is 19% higher than it was in 2021.

Natalie Lavery (8m 23s):
The energy sector specifically raised 42 billion in 2022 and that has grown 56% year over year. So really some stats to prove that it’s growing. And then in the United States specifically, last year, the Inflation Reduction Act was passed and this is known to be the grandest and greatest governmental act that has funneled significant funds into climate. It’s really the first act that is addressed to the demand that we need to address climate change in its guaranteed 370 billion in climate spending. And that money is strictly going towards incentivizing new innovation and making it easier for companies to grow and scale.

Natalie Lavery (9m 5s):
So the demand is 100% there and it is only continuing to grow.

Matt Alder (9m 12s):
So effectively, we have something that’s going from being a small focused space with that needed very, very specific scientific and technology skills to something much broader, very, very, very, very quickly. What are the kind of the barriers that are stopping people getting into working in the Climate Tech industry?

Natalie Lavery (9m 38s):
Yeah, definitely. Another step that I’ll touch on really quick before I get into that is is a education platform and they predict that 99% of the people who will be working in Climate by 2030 haven’t started yet. So that’s nearly 100% of the people who will beat in this space haven’t begun. So the next 10 years will be massive in terms of growth. So I think yes, 100% what you were saying, it was a little bit of a niche industry that wasn’t infiltrated into other sectors. Now, especially in the next 10 years, we will just see that really flip on its head and so many people will be involved. But in order to get that a hundred million people in this space in the next decade, there are some barriers that you touched on in order to combat some of those barriers, because obviously in order to get someone a job in this space, you have to address their misconceptions and really address those head-ons.

Natalie Lavery (10m 32s):
So climate people conducted a survey where we interviewed around 600 people who were working in climate jobs and those who wanted a climate job, and then also those who didn’t even know that climate jobs existed. And we asked them what was preventing them. So from that survey, we compiled three takeaways for hiring managers. So for companies that either are hiring in climate or want to have more of a climate footprint or really be conscious of their missions, these are three takeaways for them. The first is awareness. We really discovered that people who are not already in the “climate community” are not using climate-specific resources to find jobs.

Natalie Lavery (11m 14s):
So they’re going to LinkedIn, they’re going to indeed, they’re going to all of the traditional job boards and they’re not using companies like Climate People or like climate base or any of the organizations that are strictly rooted in climate jobs. So the first takeaway is if you were trying to get climate-motivated talent, you probably should be go using those traditional means and then funneling them into climate-specific resources. The second is mindset. A lot of companies that we work with that are hiring for climate jobs really want all of their candidates to have climate experience. And as I just touched on, 99% of the people who will be in this space have not yet begun, so therefore they don’t have that climate experience.

Natalie Lavery (11m 60s):
So if hiring managers are disqualifying all of those people, they’re not gonna have the best candidates. So really we encourage them to think of these skills as being transferrable and hiring candidates that have that aptitude to grow in the climate sector rather than requiring them to have experience because it’s not likely to find that. And then the third takeaway is incentives. A lot of companies that we work with and talk with really use their climate mission as a crutch. They think that they can offer less money, or less benefits, or whatever it may be because people want to work on something that they care about. And while candidates oftentimes do want to work on things that they care about, they also are still considering salary, flexibility, remote work, and all of those things that really go into the job decision-making process.

Matt Alder (12m 53s):
And obviously one of the very big focuses in the talent space at the moment is, is around diversity and inclusion. Is that something that is very much on the radar of the organizations that, that you are working with as I suppose part of this mission to make people more aware of these jobs and bring new people into this space?

Natalie Lavery (13m 18s):
Yeah, absolutely. So I’m sure as all of us know that climate change does disport disproportionately affect historically marginalized communities. And that often goes hand in hand with the fact these historically marginalized communities have the least contribution to climate change. So they’re doing the least amount to affect climate change and then therefore they’re bearing the most of the burden from its effects, which is obviously just a very unfair system, to begin with. However, I strongly believe, and at climate people, we strongly believe that if you are creating a climate solution and your company is rooted in climate solutions, you have to address climate change in a full scope.

Natalie Lavery (13m 58s):
And yes, that does mean creating solutions, your climate solution that addresses whatever it may be that you’re working on, but then also you have to consider hiring diverse talent and bringing in diverse forces voices in order to address the full scope of it. And if you aren’t doing that, you’re quite frankly just brushing the surface and you’re not getting to the real root of climate change, which is addressing the people and the planet. So we are huge advocates for all of our companies to hire diverse talent and really bring those voices to light because it’s so important. Yeah, and another thing that goes hand in hand with that is, I’m sure you know, a lot of times the reason that companies hire recruiters is one because they don’t have the internal capacity to achieve growth, and then two, they don’t, they have a search that they can’t fill on their own, so they need some outside help.

Natalie Lavery (14m 52s):
However, we really encourage companies to consider working with a recruiter early on to really help frame that hiring trajectory in order to one, get the best hires for them. And then more importantly, think of these things like hiring women and hiring marginalized community people of marginalized communities in order to really achieve those goals. Because once you have a team of eight that is strictly all white men, it’s going to be really hard to find diverse talent that want to be a part of that. So kind of a long-winded answer of, yes, it is incredibly important and it can’t be an afterthought. Diversity in climate and diversity outside of climate has to be in the inner workings of your entire company.

Natalie Lavery (15m 35s):
And something that’s thought about in the very beginning. It has to be intentional.

Matt Alder (15m 40s):
I don’t think I can think of another issue other than climate that I absolutely affects every single person listening to this show, this is something that, you know, affects all of us and all of our futures and all of our children’s futures. Those of us who are currently sort of working outside of Climate Tech. What can we be doing to be part of the solution to this massive issue?

Natalie Lavery (16m 8s):
I’m biased, but I definitely agree. I mean, climate change is affecting everyone right now, but that’s only going to continue at a exponential rate. So in terms of what you can do as an individual, again biased, but I think that, I know that a climate job is the most tangible individual action that any person can take if it’s 40 hours a week that you are already funneling into something. And if you can transition that to a climate solution that’s 40 plus hours a week that you are directly working on, re-mitigating some of that harm in those carbon emissions. So definitely think that’s huge, but I also understand that fully transitioning your career isn’t a feasible option for all people.

Natalie Lavery (16m 53s):
There’s some really great resources from a company called Project Drawdown. They’re a offshoot of Drawdown Labs. And they have lots of amazing things on how to make your cl make your job a climate job. So whether you’re a hiring manager or on a recruiting team or you’re a job seeker or an employee, there are lots of things that you can do in your everyday role to make sure that you are making your job a climate job. It can be as simple as, “Oh, my company’s not recycling. What can I do to help them recycle?” We don’t have an employee resource group for climate change or for the environment. What can I do to get that off the ground? Again, they have a lot of resources. I would highly recommend checking them out, but really just think critically about what you can do.

Natalie Lavery (17m 38s):
And I think those individual actions have, they do a lot in reversing some anti-anxiety that coincides with climate change. Oftentimes, people are paralyzed by their lack of ability to do much because climate change is suppressing. However, I know that I found, and a lot of the people I’ve talked to have found that if you start by doing one thing, the pieces start to fall into place and it seems a lot less all-consuming. So yeah, definitely think that you should transition your career if that’s impossible for you, and then if not, find ways to make your current job more sustainable.

Matt Alder (18m 13s):
Natalie, thank you very much for talking to me.

Natalie Lavery (18m 15s):
Yeah, of course. Thank you so much for having me. This has been a great conversation.

Matt Alder (Outro) (18m 21s):
My thanks to Natalie. You can subscribe to this podcast in Apple podcasts on Spotify or via your podcasting app of choice. Please also follow the show on Instagram. You can find us by searching for Recruiting Future. You can search all the past episodes at on that site. You can also subscribe to our monthly newsletter, recruiting Future Feast, and get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show. Thanks very much for listening. I’ll be back next time and I hope you’ll join me.

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