Corporate social responsibility careers

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Corporate social responsibility (CSR), otherwise known as sustainability, responsible business practice, social responsibility or corporate citizenship, is the practice of a business ensuring its processes, strategies and everyday work follows ethical, environmental and sustainable guidelines. 

A CSR professional can expect to work across a variety of sectors; in any organisation that has a CSR agenda and that can fund a post or department centred on these initiatives. Instead of a specific role, in some organisations some colleagues may have CSR built into their everyday role - the percentage of their time devoted to CSR will be variable. There are a huge range of job roles, and new graduates can enter the profession. There are no set qualifications to take, but an environmental management, ethical finance, marketing or HR background is valued. Women outnumber men by 2:1.

Companies will have different priorities, with some CSR teams focusing on specific initiatives to reduce the company's environmental footprint, whilst others ensure the work the organisation does has a limited negative affect on their local communities and surroundings or on a more global scale. Many firms make a positive local impact by helping charities, funding sports clubs or volunteering, whilst others may opt to have more of a global reach by donating money to an overseas charity or sending supplies to a grief stricken nation.

Job roles

The following are examples of job roles within CSR. Different organisations will have different names for these positions, so be aware of using alternative search terms when looking for advertised positions online.

Community investment officer

Based in a business, the CIO will work with local people to support and raise money for local charities and community groups, usually as part of the company's community outreach strategy. The CIO will need to identify causes the company wants to support (to fit in with the overall aims, objectives and goals of the company), liaise with their representatives and see how the organisation and the charity can work together. The support might be through providing training or people or through fundraising.

Sustainability officer

Roles within organisations will vary with some giving the officer responsibility for one initiative (e.g. ensuring sustainable self-catering accommodation) or for a number of company-wide ideals (e.g. recycling facilities, electricity savings, communications, etc.); this will probably be dependent on the size of the sustainability department or the need from the company CSR strategy. The officer would be expected to liaise with colleagues across the organisation and with outside contacts as required to find sustainable solutions. They would collect and analyse data and report on the on-going initiatives to management. They may also be responsible for ensuring the timely and cost effective delivery and supply of materials and items for the initiatives. In some organisations an officer may have strategy responsibilities too.

CSR manager

The manager will have a good overall view and understanding of the needs of the business, the CSR strategy and how the strategy points can be met, whilst working for the business and helping the business grow. They will be likely to manage a team of people and will be heavily involved in strategic planning. They will be a champion across the organisation for the department and the CSR initiatives, and will liaise with external stakeholders.

Useful links

Routes in

Gaining work experience or an internship in a general role within a charity, NGO or corporate organisation is a useful way to gain skills that you may be able to transfer over to a CSR focused role. Consider creating a list of skills and knowledge required by someone working within CSR and find an experience that will help bridge any skill deficit you may have. 

Once working in an organisation it may be easier to make a transition to a CSR function. However bear in mind that many CSR departments or teams are fairly small, so you would also be advised to keep an eye out for advertised CSR related positions instead of waiting for internal positions to become available.

Internships

There are few formal internships available in the area of CSR. Therefore, you would be advised to send speculative applications to organisations you are interested in working for to discuss arranging some work experience. Internships in CSR tend to be advertised as and when the business requires it.

Graduate training schemes

Training schemes specifically around CSR are rare. CSR may feature as a part of your role within a more generic graduate scheme, perhaps in management. See routes into management for a list of graduate schemes.

For more graduate schemes see Inside Careers, Prospects and employers’ websites. Visit our resource centre to pick up copies of the Times top 100 graduate employers, The Guardian UK 300 and TARGETjobs which list employers with graduate vacancies.

You can also search LSE CareerHub for graduate jobs and find organisations who are coming on to campus to recruit LSE graduates.

Advertised positions

As mentioned above a useful way to gain a position in CSR can be to utilise the skills you have gained from your work experience and apply for advertised positions. These positions are available as and when the employers' business needs it. CSR related job search sites include:

Recruitment agencies

Before approaching a recruitment agency, please read our advice on how to get the most from the interaction. See recruitment agencies: the basics.

Resources

News

Links to external sites

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