We are increasingly being asked about careers in corporate social responsibility (CSR) by students and there has also been an increase in students wanting ‘ethical’ jobs. A career in corporate social responsibility would certainly fit into the category of an ‘ethical’ job, so we’ve decided to hit two nails on the head by writing this post on working in CSR.
What is CSR?
Nowadays running a business isn’t only about making money. Many companies also want to ensure that their products, services, practices and procedures are ethical, sustainable and environmentally friendly. As a result of this, a dedicated corporate social responsibility team is now fairly commonplace in lots of businesses. The reasons for this are not purely philanthropic however, a good CSR strategy has the added bonus of boosting a company’s reputation and therefore can maximise profitability.
A recent survey of millennials and Gen Zs carried out by Deloitee found that climate change and environmental protection are top of their concerns and a report from Afflac found that 77% of American consumers say they would be more willing to purchase a company’s products or services if the company demonstrates a commitment to addressing social, economic and environmental issues; 73% of investors agreed. This clearly demonstrates that CSR is key for companies in attracting good employees as well as consumers, it’s an area that’s on the rise and is likely to have an increase in job opportunities.
Is CSR for me?
If you like the idea of working in an area that combines community and environmental work with a business focus, then it certainly could be. Job satisfaction could come from knowing you’re making a difference to local communities and reducing a company’s environmental impact with the added bonus of potentially making the company more profitable.
What roles are available?
Many large companies such as KPMG, Ernst and Young, BT and Thornton’s have entire teams dedicated to CSR. These teams 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.
There are 3 main areas of CSR:
If you worked in strategy, you could be involved in working out which charities and community projects to get involved in and why. You could also be involved in researching environmental issues, analysing how your company is addressing them, looking at ways to improve current practice and working out how to integrate those into the business.
Managing CSR initiatives could involve going out into the community, setting up and overseeing projects; ensuring suppliers fit with the company’s CSR strategy for example making sure they are Fair Trade suppliers or arranging environmental audits.
The publicity side of things would involve ensuring all key stakeholders know all about your company’s CSR activities. You’d use marketing and PR skills to publicise these and also be involved in deciding what events to sponsor and charities to support.
Roles in CSR vary from company to company in a very large employer you may only work on one aspect such as strategy whereas in a small to medium employer you could be working on all three aspects. For further details on salaries, progression opportunities and what roles might entail see this occupational profile of a Corporate Social Responsibility Manager.
How do I get in?
There isn’t a standard entry route. A good degree in any discipline is usually required but what’s more important is a genuine interest in and passion for the environment, sustainability and community work. You could demonstrate this through any relevant societies you’re involved in, or by volunteering with relevant organisations. You can find volunteering opportunities through the SU, the Community Volunteer Service for opportunities in Bath or online opportunities through Studenteer.
Where to find vacancies
CSR Eagles offers a training scheme for graduates from a widening participation background, which includes a six-month placement in CSR with a wide variety of big companies. Applications are closed for this year but should hopefully be open again for next year. You can find vacancies on the usual job boards such as Indeed and LinkedIn, but you could also register on the job boards with any companies you want to work for, as well as using a direct speculative approach. Don’t forget you can find vacancies on MyFuture for companies who particularly want to attract Bath graduates, as well as webinars, help and resources for applications, CVS and cover letters including speculative applications. You’ll also find lots of resources on interviews on MyFuture too, to help you bag that CSR role!