Careers Service Occupations

Corporate Social Responsibility

About

Graduates working in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) aim to ensure that companies conduct their business ethically. They encourage businesses to monitor their social, economic, environmental and human rights impact.

  • CSR activities include: working with local communities, socially responsible investment (SRI), developing employee and customer relationships, and environmental protection and sustainability
  • Businesses can use CSR to increase competitive advantage, raise brand awareness and build customer and employee trust
  • Specific CSR graduate training schemes are rare. For graduate entry positions CSR may feature more as a part of your role within a more general graduate scheme
  • Entry-level roles tend to start at an annual salary of £18,000 - £23,000. More experienced professionals can earn around £30,000 to £35,000. Senior managers can earn annual salaries of £60,000 - £80,000
  • CSR opportunities are found throughout the UK

Careers advice

Industry news

To enter this field you will need to keep up to date with key issues in the sector.

Professional bodies

These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates.

They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow them on LinkedIn or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

The main professional associations for this sector include:

Find professional bodies outside of the UK on GoinGlobal by selecting ‘Professional and Personal Networking’ on each of the individual country guides.

Making contacts

Making contacts is essential for success in this sector. Many jobs in this field come through networking and speculative applications. You could start with the organisations listed above and also find potential contacts through the Environmental Data Services (ENDS) directory or People and Planet, a student network in the UK campaigning for social and environmental justice.

Events

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and events give insight and opportunities to make contacts.

For events listings, see Careers Service events or External Events.

Related sectors

You may also be interested in administration, management consultancy, HR, government and politics, retaileconomics, development, project management, community work, charities and voluntary organisations, marketing, public relations

Or see our other Explore Occupations pages for more options.

Roles & Skills

There isn’t one standard route into CSR. You can enter this field with an undergraduate degree in any discipline. Studying a relevant subject may give you an advantage. This can include sociology, economics, international development, modern languages, marketing, PR, law, politics, business studies, maths or environmental sciences.

Roles

Many direct-entry CSR roles require specialist knowledge and business experience and may not be open to new or less experienced graduates.

There are a few graduate entry opportunities. Some graduates begin their CSR careers as an assistant or corporate social responsibility officer and progress to become a corporate social responsibility manager.

CSR related roles may not be titled ‘CSR’ and can be included in a range of job roles and departments. Some become involved in CSR via another route, for example HR, marketing/communications, PR or fundraising.

If you do begin an entry level post, you'll carry out most of your training on the job with manager supervision. You may also have the opportunity to attend in-house training. Once you reach the position of corporate social responsibility manager, to develop your career further you may need to move to a larger company. Some CSR practitioners are self-employed.

If you are hardworking and proactive, career progression can happen quite quickly as CSR teams tend to be quite small.

The following CSR-related job profiles include descriptions of typical duties, entry requirements and case studies.

Corporate social responsibility manager

Sustainability consultant

Skills employers look for

Because CSR involves a range of sectors and jobs, there is not one single list of skills required by all employers. Any technical skills required will depend on the specific role, but evidence of the following will usually be necessary:

  • communication skills
  • business/commercial/political awareness
  • leadership
  • problem-solving
  • decision-making
  • empathy
  • adaptability
  • team working

Gaining Experience

Getting into CSR is competitive. Work experience is invaluable in developing relevant skills and demonstrating your interest and commitment to recruiters.

Finding work experience

Employers in this sector will be looking for evidence of your interest in CSR. This might be through, for example, undertaking relevant work experience/shadowing, volunteering or joining CSR groups and networks.

Gaining work experience within a charity, NGO or corporate organisation can also be a useful way to gain skills that you could transfer to a CSR role. See our Sector-specific pages for advice on gaining transferable experience in other sectors.

Professional bodies and research councils occasionally advertise opportunities. See About for a list of organisations.

Internships and placements

Undertaking an internship or placement year is a great way to gain in-depth experience, however, these are not commonly advertised in CSR.

It may be possible to arrange work experience by researching relevant organisations and contacting them directly, through a speculative application. Penultimate year undergraduate students can opt to take a 9-12 month placement, extending your degree programme by one year. For more information, or to register your interest, see Placements.

Formal internships available in CSR are rare and tend to be advertised as and when the business requires it. Companies that occasionally offer internships in this area include:

Finding opportunities

  • Search for opportunities on MyCareer

  • Student Ladder - lists internships in the charities and voluntary sector
  • Bright Green Placements - provides paid 8-12 week environmental assistance internships for student and recent graduates in small and medium businesses. (These are only available in Scotland)

See Charities and Voluntary Organisations for more examples of work experience in this sector or our Sector-specific pages to find work experience that will give you transferable skills to take into this field.

You could also find work experience in this area by taking a speculative approach (see Finding companies below)

Finding companies

Find companies or organisations that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. 

Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

In the North East

Below are examples of organisations who have a North East base and have specifically highlighted corporate responsibility/sustainability. They may be worth approaching speculatively to ask about work experience.

  • AkzoNobel - international chemical company, has a base in Gateshead
  • Berghaus - clothing manufacturer based in Sunderland
  • DEFRA - UK government department responsible for environment, food and rural affairs policy and regulations
  • English Heritage - bases across the UK, including the North East
  • Gentoo Group - housing group based in Sunderland with a strong sustainability and social responsibility focus
  • Groundwork NE & Cumbria - offer CSR opportunities to companies
  • Newcastle Building Society - has a clear CSR focus
  • Northumbrian Water - describe themselves as a socially responsible company
  • Northern Powergrid - North East based electricity supplier, offering sustainable energy solutions
  • Port of Tyne - contributes 1% of profit to a community action fund on an ongoing basis and supports many community events, business and cultural institutions
  • Shared Interest - co-operative lending society based in Newcastle
  • Sustrans - sustainable transport charity with Newcastle office
  • TSG (Technology Services Group) - has bases in Tyne and Wear
  • Terra Infirma - Environmental and sustainability consultancy based in Newcastle
  • Traidcraft - UK fair trade organisation, based in Gateshead

See also our page Working in the North East for useful websites, in particular, public sector links.

You can also use the following sites to find organisations to approach:

UK wide

Many larger companies now publish information on their CSR activities on their websites. The following list companies who have been recognised as having a good CSR record:

You can also use the following sites to find organisations to approach:

See Researching Employers for more ways to source and research companies.

Other ways to gain experience

You could also take on some CSR responsibilities in a current position for example within a society, club or in a voluntary or part time work context:

  • Part-time jobs, in areas such as fundraising, admin, PR, management or retail can provide valuable experience. A background in these fields can offer an alternative entry point into CSR. See Part-time Jobs for vacancy sources
  • Volunteering is also a great way to demonstrate your interest in CSR and can provide practical work experience, a network of contacts and potential employment opportunities. Go Volunteer is part of Newcastle University Students' Union (NUSU) and helps Newcastle University students find volunteering opportunities. As well as projects within NUSU and student-led projects, they also have links to over 200 charities and not-for-profit organisations within the local community
  • You can also gain experience through extra-curricular projects. See the Student Initiative Fund and Awards, Competitions and Project Funding
  • Entering the Institute of Business Ethics Student Essay Competition could also make your CV stand out from the crowd
  • Joining student societies is another way you can gain relevant work experience. Newcastle University Students' Union has several societies that campaign and fundraise for humanitarian causes or work with charities 

Finding Jobs

Opportunities in CSR exist in the private, public and voluntary sectors. Read advertised job descriptions carefully, as CSR related roles may not be titled ‘CSR’ and can be included in a range of job roles and departments

Finding jobs

Larger private sector companies sometimes have CSR departments or have CSR functions located within other departments.

Some large accounting and consulting firms are trying to compete with the niche CSR consulting firms by offering their own CSR client services – see accountancy and tax and management consultancy for vacancy sites.

In the public sector, CSR career options can be found in national government agencies and international organisations. Some non-governmental organisations (NGOs), industry associations, think tanks and academic institutions engage in CSR advocacy. These groups promote the use of CSR within the private and public spheres. Examples include: Friends of the Earth, Amnesty International and Corporate Responsibility (CORE) Coalition.

See government and politics, charities and voluntary organisations and development for additional vacancies sites. 

Graduate schemes

Specific CSR graduate training schemes are rare. For graduate entry roles, CSR may feature more as a part of your role within a more general graduate scheme, for example, in management.

Examples of graduate schemes that state they are committed to CSR include:

See Graduate jobs and for other graduate schemes. Searching with the term 'CSR' or 'sustainability' on the website of an employer with a graduate scheme will normally highlight their commitment to CSR.

See 'Finding companies' below for more information on finding potential graduate recruiters with a strong CSR record. 

See Researching Employers for more ways to research companies.

Vacancy sites

Find jobs and additional vacancy source websites outside of the UK on GoinGlobal.

Specialist recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies can provide an additional source of employment opportunities during your job hunt.

Recruitment agencies manage the recruitment process for organisations and companies who have chosen to outsource vacancies. They work to match your skills and qualities to suitable roles. Find out more about recruitment agencies

  • Allen & York - sustainable recruitment consultancy
  • Acre Resources - the majority are experienced, senior roles but they sometimes have entry level positions
  • Elevator Café - promote jobs with social enterprises, charities and purpose driven companies
  • Evergreen - environmental recruitment agency

Finding companies

Not all jobs are advertised. You could also approach organisations or find work through networking in the industry.

Find companies that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. 

Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

Many larger companies now publish information on their CSR activities on their websites. The following list companies who have been recognised as having a good CSR record:

You can also use the following sites to find organisations to approach:

See Researching Employers for more ways to source and research companies.

In the North East

Below are examples of organisations who have a North East base and have specifically highlighted corporate responsibility/sustainability. Check their websites for advertised vacancies, or they may also be worth approaching speculatively to ask about graduate level positions. 

  • AkzoNobel - international chemical company, has a base in Gateshead
  • Berghaus - clothing manufacturer based in Sunderland
  • DEFRA - UK government department responsible for environment, food and rural affairs policy and regulations
  • English Heritage - bases across the UK, including the North East
  • Gentoo Group - housing group based in Sunderland with a strong sustainability and social responsibility focus
  • Groundwork NE & Cumbria - offer CSR opportunities to companies
  • Newcastle Building Society - has a clear CSR focus
  • Northumbrian Water - describe themselves as a socially responsible company
  • Northern Powergrid - North East based electricity supplier, offering sustainable energy solutions
  • Port of Tyne - contributes 1% of profit to a community action fund on an ongoing basis and supports many community events, business and cultural institutions
  • Shared Interest - co-operative lending society based in Newcastle
  • Sustrans - sustainable transport charity with Newcastle office
  • TSG (Technology Services Group) - has bases in Tyne and Wear
  • Terra Infirma - Environmental and sustainability consultancy based in Newcastle
  • Traidcraft - UK fair trade organisation, based in Gateshead

See also our page Working in the North East for useful websites, in particular, public sector links.

You can also use the following sites to find organisations to approach:

Study & Training

Further study is not a prerequisite for this career area but some employers will prefer candidates with postgraduate qualifications.

As well as specialist postgraduate degrees in CSR and sustainable business, there are an increasing number of postgraduate qualifications and MBAs that incorporate issues like business ethics, socially responsible investment (SRI), corporate governance, sustainability and corporate citizenship.

Transferable skills and knowledge from other postgraduate courses such as environmental management, ethical finance, marketing and HR, are also valued.

You can search for related courses using key words like ‘corporate governance’ and ‘corporate administration’. Many of these courses contain CSR and business ethics.

 See Further Study to find relevant courses.

Some independent training providers like The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) and Kaleidoscope Futures also offer specialist and short courses in CSR, usually aimed at those already working in a business.