Boosting the career credentials of CSR professionals

CSR consultants and in-house corporate responsibility professionals are operating in relatively new job roles. Consequently, it can be difficult for companies to map out the career trajectories for employees in these spheres.

The London-based not-for-profit, Business in the Community (BITC), has just launched a new, free resource to help begin to tackle this issue. Called the ‘CR Practitioner Competency Map’, it is intended to support the professional development of all those working in CSR.

BITC developed the map following demand from CSR practitioners who were asking for something to help both structure their own development, and to help their organisations integrate CSR practice throughout the business.

A series of business and HR specialists developed the map, alongside a behavioural psychologist. The framework was based on findings from previous research, which was identified via a literature review. It is currently being trialled by a number of top UK firms include the Nationwide Building Society and law firm Linklaters.

BITC has aimed to develop the map in such a way that it will work for organisations of varying sizes and in all fields. It is also designed to be used by those who are full-time CSR professionals, but also by those for whom CSR forms only part of their role. The aim is to help them build a personal development plan so they can build up their own professional effectiveness and equip themselves for future roles.

The map is also helpful for those managing corporate responsibility teams to ensure that they have the right skills to deliver the strategy. Importantly, because it has been developed in partnership with HR professionals it should help them integrate the necessary qualities for CSR competence into existing frameworks.

As it is based on interviews with senior CSR professionals, it offers practical solutions to problems by those who have lived through them.

The map is certainly very thorough- covering a total of 13 different areas including working with stakeholders, environment, internal and external communications and measuring and reporting. This is a little mind-boggling but the idea appears to be that you prioritise which of the areas is most pertinent to your own situation and work on those. It aims to identify the business outcomes you are looking for (suggestions are identified for you) as well as the challenges you may face in getting there and how to overcome them.

This tool appears particularly useful for those who are attempting to juggle their CSR role as part of another job, as it explains clearly how the different parts of the jigsaw fit together.

The fact that it is developed in tandem with HR experts is also a very smart move as it speaks their language, demonstrating the value of CSR to the business. It also shows how this can be measured in terms of an individual’s professional development.

The competency map does require some thought to work through but it should prove really useful as a CSR tool. And the fact that it is free to use should certainly help sell it to senior management.

Photo credit: Shashi Bellamkonda