Thomas Knowlton, CEO CSR Talent Group
Thomas Knowlton, CSR Talent Group

What inspired you to start CSR Talent Group?
I was a partner and head of the corporate practice at a social impact firm for many years, and I saw that predictive trends were emerging such as the increasing urgency of climate change and the pressure on companies to show measurable results, the lack of expertise within many sustainability departments and the rise of the high-skills freelance economy. 

I could see that while there are many on-demand platforms for companies to solve for typical business needs – strategy, operations, administration – there hasn’t been one place to go to find the expertise companies need to tackle their climate-related footprint. The opportunity was to build a global network of experts that companies could tap for short, long term or interim engagements without the overhead expense of a traditional consulting firm. We thought if we could centralize the RFP and vetting process for the CSR professional with limited time, more CSR, ESG and Sustainability goals could be met.

What is the problem you are trying to solve, and how will doing so help companies to better address climate change?
First, we’re trying to relieve pressure for companies that need to take action in the face of climate change by offering a turnkey way to access the greatest choice of vetted, flexible highly skilled experts to meet their needs. Just last week, the Financial Times reported on the spike in demand and competition for sustainability experts amidst increasing shareholder and regulatory pressure. We’re here to respond to that demand. We can source sustainability specialists – individuals or teams – from all over the globe.

Traditional sustainability consulting firms are hamstrung with not being able to offer an expert for every client challenge. This puts the burden on in-house staff to spend unnecessary time and resources piecing together their informal referral system to find the right help. We wanted to be the go-to hub that made finding experts easy, efficient and affordable so that companies could meet their sustainability goals.

What is/are the most common mistakes companies make when hiring someone to fill a CSR role? 
They rely on ad hoc referral systems that may or may not result in the right candidate. Companies are not yet utilizing the high-skills freelance economy to reduce overhead,  get exactly what you need at the time you need it and maintain control over the time and expense.

Why did you join CTSBC? 
We joined CTSBC because we recognize the fast-growing pressure companies are facing to meet, measure and report on how they’re contributing to the climate change solution. We enjoy guiding companies along the sustainability continuum using 1:1 thought partnership and on-tap experts to ensure their success.
If we can make the process easy for any company of any size within any industry then I think we’ll be an asset to CTSBC’s mission of ensuring that companies within this committed community will have every resource available to build and grow a sustainable economy in CT.