Career Planning: Two Things You Can Do To Emerge As CSR Talent!

Many posts on our Justmeans blogs have been focusing on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and on how it has and has not delivered on its promise. Whether due to the Great Global Recession or to the criticisms they have received on not doing enough, firms have reconsidered their CSR initiatives. Those led by strong CSR leaderships have known how to take advantage of the market pressures to translate initiatives into imperatives. Others have settled for a CSR strategy limited to targeted charitable donations. As a socio-eco innovator (SEI), you might be wondering how you can best position yourself to become a socio-eco intrapreneur (or CSR professional) who can change how business is done from within a big firm. Or you might be wondering how to compete for jobs in socially responsible businesses that integrate social and environmental impact when making business decisions. In a world of increased interdependence across countries and also between the private, public and non-profit sectors, there are more ways today than ever before to best position yourself as an emerging CSR leader. Here are two types of experiences that can help you do so:

Turn an initiative into an imperative – An increasing number of consumers are voting with their dollars, and making buying decisions based on the CSR record of companies. A recent survey showed that 70% of consumers would pay more for CSR. This gives you a great entry point to consider how some of your current projects align with your company’s current strategic CSR positioning. Identify a project that can align with the company’s CSR initiative, and produce two strategic plans to complete the project. One would be a ‘business as usual’ proposal, and the other one would be the innovative initiative you would like to implement. Use your presentation skills and your persuasive communications skills, along with your negotiation skills to convince your boss that this project is not merely a new initiative. It is an imperative that can help your boss and your entire department be recognized for adding economic value while aligning with the company’s CSR strategy. See this great post to get started.

Build your track record in public/private partnership management – CSR professionals are highly skilled in building ethical strategic alliances with non-profits. Beyond CSR professionals, companies have had a long history of building partnerships across sectors. But many of these traditional partnerships have been less than ethical, ranging from access to land and resources, to corruption of public office leaders. Some partnerships are a work in progress. To emerge as a CSR professional, it is important that you demonstrate that you can optimally build and maintain mutually beneficial partnerships with non-profits that align with your company’s CSR goals. For example, if your company sells baby clothes, you can partner with non-profits that aim at serving the needs of babies and their families. Co-branding is a powerful tool to show your company’s commitment to its community and customers. Or you can engage your company in fundraising for the March of Dimes as a start. Finally, you could also consider coordinating a volunteering event for employees to serve as baby holders at the local hospital. In sum, strategically partner with social and environmental causes that align with your core business. Building partnerships across sectors and letting your consumers know about them is an optimal way to develop your skill set as a CSR professional.

What other ways have you found helpful as you develop your CSR skill set? I look forward to hearing more examples and feature them in future posts to help future CSR professionals with their career planning!

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