What is corporate social responsibility?

In this day and age, running a business is not just about making money. Companies are becoming increasingly keen to make sure that their practices, processes, products and procedures are ethical, sustainable and environmentally friendly. Consequently, many businesses now have dedicated corporate social responsibility (CSR) teams.

Admittedly, this commitment to corporate social responsibility is not purely for philanthropic reasons. An impressive CSR strategy can enhance a company’s reputation and thus maximise its profitability. If you want a career which involves community and environmental work with a business twist, then maybe a career in corporate social responsibility could be right up your street.

What jobs are available in corporate social responsibility?

Increased public demand for sustainable, ethical and environmentally-friendly business practices has necessitated the rise of CSR. Major companies, such as KPMG and Addleshaw Goddard, now employ entire teams of corporate social responsibility professionals.

These guys have strategic responsibility to manage, coordinate and publicise a range of activities and initiatives that aim to reduce their company’s environmental impact, help with the development of local communities and make charitable donations.

CSR initiatives are excellent tools for refining a company’s brand identity. If they are publicised effectively they can make the company more attractive and reputable in a variety of ways. For instance, a fantastic backbone of corporate social responsibility can help the recruitment process by attracting the best candidates.

Furthermore, it can enhance a company’s customer appeal and actively reduce outgoings by helping the organisation to cut down on its consumption and waste of valuable resources.

If you work in this area, you will gain fantastic job satisfaction in two ways. Firstly, your work will actively be helping the environment and local communities. Secondly, you will be helping your company to thrive and gain an edge over its competitors.

What does CSR involve?

Essentially, CSR careers are all about:

  • Strategy
  • Management
  • Publicity.

If you work on the strategy side of things, you might be conducting research into environmental issues and analysing your company’s current practices to combat them. You will then be devising ways of improving current processes, getting actively involved in corporate policy-making and then deciding how best to integrate these strategic visions into current business activities with minimal interruption.

Additionally, you might play an integral role in deciding which charities to support and which community development schemes and volunteering programmes your company’s employees will get involved with.

Strategy is one thing, but the initiatives that are devised by the CSR team also need to be implemented and coordinated effectively. If you focus your efforts on this side of proceedings, you might be arranging environmental audits of your existing suppliers; you could be going out into the community and actively setting up volunteering programmes; or you may be commissioning environmental consultants to carry out assessments of your company’s site.

Moreover, part of your job would involve liaising with potential suppliers, assessing their suitability and selecting the ones which fit in with your organisation’s values and ethical standards. For instance, you might only be dealing with Fairtrade companies.

If you choose to get involved with the publicity side of CSR, you will be responsible for making sure the whole world knows about your company’s efforts. You would be using your excellent PR and marketing skills to make sure that all initiatives are widely-publicised and covered in the press. You will also be integral to deciding which community events to sponsor and which charities your organisation should be working in partnership with.

Your career in CSR will entirely depend on your specific employer. For instance, in some major companies you might solely be working on publicity. However, in other organisations, you might be getting involved with strategy, implementation and publicity.

There is no standard entry-route into this line of work. However, the majority of organisations will require you to have a decent degree, commercial awareness and a strong passion for the environment, community work and sustainability.

Check out the occupational profile of a Corporate Social Responsibility Manager to find out more about working in this area.

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