Insights on CSR Professionals Available Through Recent Boston College Report

profileprofession2010_largeEver wonder what's actually known about professionals in the corporate citizenship profession, the CSR folks we offer suggestions to in our own companies, non-profits and other governmental institutions? Thanks to Boston College's Center for Corporate Citizenship, we now have access to a report that's based on a survey of over 600 professionals.

"Profile of the Profession 2010: Corporate citizenship leaders for today and tomorrow" offers a glimpse into the profession, the responsibilities and roles played out by these practitioners, what background they bring to the table, the salary ranges, what motivates them, what they consider to be their key challenges and what must be present for them to succeed. So let's take a peek at some factoids learned about and some options given by CSR officers.

Two job functions most commonly mentioned as part of the work of the of the full-time professional surveyed are developing partnerships internally (86.3%) and externally (84.2%). Nearly 75% of respondents mentioned that implementing volunteering and philanthropy programs are part of their responsibilities, in addition to developing strategies for those programs. Not surprisingly, about 93% of CSR professionals have a background in a different field. Given the importance of developing strong interdepartmental and external stakeholder relationships, fields related to communications appear in their backgrounds, with approximately 44.6% of respondents having held communications positions in the past, 24.2% having experience in public relations, 22.6% having a background in corporate communications and about 23.9% bringing a marketing background.

What about training of CSR professionals? Close to 70% of survey respondents have some type of formal training in CSR, and more than 50% claim to have attended an external course or seminar. Almost 20% of professionals have completed  a community involvement or corporate citizenship certificate. And what's the ticket to success in a CSR environment? At the top of the list is the ability to lead. In fact, the three most cited skills by survey respondents were the "ability to influence, leading/motivating others, and network building." When it comes to their own job satisfaction, it appears respondents believe that the rewards are beyond the dollars (thank goodness!). The leading two reasons why most of these surveyed professionals stay at their jobs are because they find them to be "challenging/interesting projects" and "impact on community/society." Nearly 70% of respondents cited those two reasons.

It was interesting, though not surprising given my experience with companies, 64% of respondents don't have global responsibilities even though 61% of them worked at organizations with global interests. Apparently the scope for most of the respondents' geographic focus is local or national. Speaking of non-surprising factoids, even though the ratio of women-to-men in these positions is 3-to-1, clearly a women-dominated field, the males in the survey "who work at a senior or executive level (49.7 percent) is almost twice the rate of women in higher level positions (26.9 percent)." Ready for the salary ranges? The median salary range of surveyed men is between $100,000 to $109,000. For women? The median salary hovers between $80,000 to $89,000. It sounds rather obvious, but companies employing CSR professionals who are genuinely "committed" to corporate citizenship could improve their internal and external standing and credibility by offering capable, proven professionals who happen to be women the opportunity for more senior positions.

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