Green is good: The ESG talent war in private equity

New career insights from GreenBiz:

A major opportunity sits at the intersection of private equity and the ESG profession — right?

Private equity’s primary purpose is clear: to achieve alpha for super-rich individuals who can afford super-steep private equity fund minimums and for institutional investors such as pension funds, endowments and insurance companies. But this opaque asset class has recently made a significant splash in the world of ESG and thus the world of ESG talent.

A wave of high-profile ESG talent has entered the space over the past few years — think Sustainability Accounting Standards Board founder and former CEO Jean Rogers’ transition to lead ESG at Blackstone last year or Microsoft’s chief environmental officer Lucas Joppa’s move to an as-of-yet unnamed private equity firm in late July.

Since the leveraged buyout boom of the 1980s, private equity has been seen as more of a “greed is good” corner of financial services than anything like “green is good.” And, with the current climate-focused epoch in investing largely characterized by a push for public market ESG disclosure, private markets have been framed as a place where dirty assets can seek shelter from scrutiny.

As BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has put it, “There’s more movement away from hydrocarbon assets into private hands than anytime, ever … That’s window dressing, that’s greenwashing.”

That said, ESG roles are opening at an increasing clip at private equity firms both small and large. So what’s behind the trend, and how is private equity skilling and staffing up to meet the moment?

I recently checked in with some people who are plugged into the intersection of private markets and ESG to gauge their perspective on how this new front in the ESG talent war is shaping up. Read the full article on GreenBiz.

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