How to create a sustainability-focused recruitment strategy to attract emerging talent

Want to attract emerging talent to help drive sustainability goals and SDG initiatives in your organization?

Cover of the 'Top 8 tips for creating a sustainability-focused recruitment strategy' booklet

Employers, hiring managers and recruitment specialists take note. Emerging talent want work that supports a greener and more equitable future.

By 2025, Generation Z (Gen Z), will account for 27 per cent of the workforce. Born between 1996-2014, Gen Z is the most diverse group to ever hit the workforce.

Research from Waterloo’s Work-Learn Institute (WxL) shows that Gen Z values differ from those of previous demographic cohorts.

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Gen Z wants to make an impact!

As employees, they value benevolence (helping others), hedonism (enjoying life) and self-direction (exploring curiosities). Gen Z was raised in a digital world and lived through a global pandemic. Today, they experience the effects of climate change and ongoing racial injustice. They want to drive change. 

Advancing sustainability goals through the strategic framework of environmental, social and governance (ESG) are an important reflection of Gen Z’s lived experience. Research from WxL indicates Gen Z talent expect balance and security in the workplace.

They will prioritize a workplace culture that considers equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism (EDI-R). These are at the foundation of ESG and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).  

Is focusing on sustainability and ESG key to Gen Z?

Yes, according to research from WxL. Before working at a company, Gen Z talent will look at the company’s ESG goals and performance:

How employers are utilizing co-op students to support ESG

Roles sustainability-focused co-op students are taking on


Waterloo co-op students and employers champion sustainability 

Group of Definity co-op students and employees holding a sign saying they provided 1,588 meals at the food bankWaterloo co-op students help drive sustainability at Definity

Definity Financial Corporation (Definity) supports positive change in their community through a sustainability lens. The organization utilizes co-op students to help lead their sustainability and corporate citizenship initiatives.

Group of Arup co-op students and staffArup is prioritizing a sustainable future with the help of co-op students 

Arup believes a sustainable future starts now. Through a global collective of designers, engineers and sustainability consultants, Arup works across multiple markets with the goal of supporting sustainable development.   


Two co-op students walking and engaging in a greenscape setting

Hiring for change: tips for implementing sustainable practices through co-op

Prioritizing sustainability and developing eco-efficient systems can be challenging. However, these systems can help manage economic influx and create a great social impact. 

John Arambulo, (they/them/he/him), talent acquisition specialist at ecobee

Attracting sustainability-focused students: ecobee helps students see how they can make a difference

A Canadian home automation company, ecobee produces smart thermostats, home monitoring cameras and a variety of sensors aimed at creating a more sustainable world.