Corporate Social Responsibility

The definitions of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) vary between organisations and individuals. Generally it is defined as helping organisations conduct their activity in a way that is ethical, taking into account their environmental, social, economic and human rights impact.

It is important for anyone interested in the career to decide what CSR means to them. Elements of CSR are often embedded into a job without the fact being made explicit and is it increasingly becoming core business practice rather than a separate function. It may also be possible to influence a role and/or an organisation from within to make a difference so you may be able to transform a job into one including CSR.

Tips for getting in

CSR jobs do not require a particular degree subject for entry. Masters level qualifications CSR courses exist but are not a prerequisite for entering the field.

It is possible to work in consultancies, in-house CSR teams, social enterprises, charities or government. Roles are not always suitable for graduate entrants so you may need to build up experience and consider CSR as a medium-term objective. For instance in-house CSR jobs are often only advertised to internal candidates so consider joining a corporate and making a sideways move later.

Relevant experience could include: volunteering to assist a charity with a CSR project or an internship or period of work shadowing in a CSR department or consultancy. You can also demonstrate your commitment, skills and experience by influencing policies and actions in any organisation to be more environmentally sustainable or socially responsible.

It is important to read extensively and keep up to date with issues in the area of the sector you are interested in.

Finding opportunities

Read job descriptions carefully, it is important to look below the surface. CSR related functions may be included in a range of job roles and based in unexpected departments.

Network to improve your understanding of issues within CSR, where roles may be located and to let people know that you are looking for work. There are several CSR groups on LinkedIn.

CSR is rarely included in graduate schemes. Tesco incorporate CSR into its Corporate Affairs graduate scheme. RBS gives graduates on all its schemes the opportunity to participate in CSR activities 'community investment', which could be useful experience.

Speculative applications are common within this field and must be carefully targeted.