Three Pieces of Career Advice from the 2010 CSR Salary Survey

The 2010 Corporate Responsibility Salary Survey published by Acre, Acona and Ethical Performance is filled with great career advice for aspiring CSR professionals or Socio-Eco Innovators to get business done better.  This survey was completed by 595 CSR professionals. The majority of respondents worked in CSR within companies (72%), while the rest of the respondents acted as external CSR consultants. 87% of respondents were working in Europe or in North America.  This data, as mentioned in a previous post by Amelia Timbers, indicates that CSR is now a real thing.  Companies are investing in CSR, and are hiring employees to design and deploy strategies that can enable the company to remain competitive by aligning its core business with its social and environmental initiatives.  Building upon previous posts on what you can do to emerge as CSR talent, let's discuss three pieces of career advice derived from the survey results:

Career Advice # 1: Gain corporate experience. Various levels of CSR positions are now available within companies. The career ladder for in-house CSR positions starts with CSR Assistant/Support positions. Employees in these positions have an average of 5 to 10 years of corporate work experience, and serve as assistant in their first CSR assignment. From assistants, CSR professionals can hope for promotions every 3-5 years, from CSR Analyst to CSR Manager, to CSR Director/Head. Starting out, most CSR professionals have at least 8-10 years of corporate work experience.  Also, note that most big companies have CSR Departments of 9 people or less. So if you are interested in getting a CSR position, gaining corporate experience in a traditional role is sure to help you achieve that goal. In addition, remember that these positions are limited to traditional companies. In contrast, all employees can be considered CSR professionals in benefits corporations as well as in socially responsible businesses that make business decisions based on financial return as well as social impact and environmental responsibility.

Career Advice #2: Get good at CSR reporting – Most in-house CSR professionals report that they spend most of their time on tasks related to reporting return on investments and monitoring project performance. In order for you to add value as a CSR professional, make sure that you learn as much as you can about how CSR departments report their social and environmental impact. Read your company’s CSR report, read the CSR reports from your competitors, and make CSR reporting an integral part of your current role. The more you practice talking about your projects based on projected financial, social, and environmental performance, the more you will be equipped to implement these framework when offered the opportunity to integrate social and environmental impact in your future projects. For more guidance on how to do so, see the Seventh Generation Grading Your Green Framework, as well as previous posts here, and here.

Career Advice #3: To be more satisfied at work, participate in CSR initiatives – 80% of CSR professionals reported that they were satisfied at work (as compared to the US national average of 45%). This shows that when professionals can align their values with their work, they feel more satisfied.  What can you do to align your values with your work? Can you help launch an initiative to reduce your environmental impact? Can you set up a partnership with a local non-profit that align with your core business? Learn more about the current CSR initiatives started at your company, and join in to contribute to an initiative that aligns with your values.  Starting or contributing to initiatives in your traditional role can lead you to feel more satisfied at work.  Getting involved will also enable you to make connections that can lead to your future CSR job.

It is now easier than ever to identify CSR positions in traditional companies, as well as in socially responsible businesses.  I look forward to learning more about career advice that others might have for aspiring CSR professioansl, as well as to reading your questions and comments!

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