Corporate social responsibility opportunities rise

The corporate social responsibility (CSR) profession is now a well-established part of the business landscape, according to research.

The first CSR Salary Survey, conducted by consultancy Acona, recruitment agency Acre Resources and business newsletter Ethical Performance, shows there are about 2,000 CSR practitioners in the UK, compared with very few 10 years ago.

Findings from an online poll of 281 of the most senior CSR professionals in the country reveal that a quarter are in charge of budgets of more than £1m per year, one-third work in teams of more than four people, and just under half of all CSR heads report directly to the chief executive or a main board director.

The average wage is between £40,000 and £60,000 a year, earned by about 40% of the respondents. About 20% take home between £60,000 and £80,000, and 4% earn £120,000 or more. And while the profession is evenly split between men (49%) and women (51%), there is a significant difference between their earnings. Men dominate the highest pay band, while women are disproportionately represented in the lowest two.

This indicates that men are more likely to occupy senior positions at managerial and director levels, reflecting the general gender divide of business as a whole – even though equal opportunities is one of the areas most commonly dealt with by CSR professionals.

Environmental policies and programmes were found to be the highest priority, cited by 32% of respondents. Other important activities included compiling the annual CSR report (29%), community involvement (21%), and engaging in dialogue with stakeholders on social and environmental issues (10%).

“Our survey shows that CSR is not, as some may have believed, a passing fad,” said Tom Leathes, director and co-founder of Acre Resources. “Salaries in CSR are rising, and are perhaps higher in general than some would have expected.

“That CSR professionals choose to work within the sector – often despite the higher material rewards available elsewhere – is powerful testimony to the attractiveness of helping organisations improve their social, environmental and ethical performance.”

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