Aspire Hub Masterclass - Demystifying a Career in Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability
We are pleased to announce the Aspire Hub held their first webinar which focused on “Demystifying a Career in Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability”. The webinar aimed to support new and aspiring CRS professionals with breaking into the industry and share suggestions for developing their skills and experience to progress in a CRS career.
Three industry leading speakers joined us to share their advice and wisdom:
- Gerald Palmer, CSR Manager at Hyperion Insurance Group
- Nadia Al-Yafai, Group Head of Social Impact and Responsibility at Royal London
- Steve Burgess, Environment Manager at Selfridges
Our speakers offered their thoughts and insights on working in the sector. This included discussing the different community, social impact and environmental roles, followed by some top tips for succeeding in a career with purpose.
If you missed the event, you can view the recording here and read some of the key takeaways and resources below.
Understanding Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CRS)
There are a range of interchangeable terms used in the CRS industry (such as “Corporate Responsibility”, “Corporate Social Responsibility” and “Sustainability”) that underpin how an organisation communicates their responsible business strategy. Roles can be extremely varied depending on the industry, size, or global nature of an organisation. For example, being responsible for:
- Environmental initiatives such as: reducing energy, carbon, water, waste and behaviour change
- Social initiatives including: Charitable partnerships or foundations, community engagement and employee volunteering
- Strategy: Communications / Storytelling, reporting and stakeholder management
- Or a combination of all of the above!
Whether you are looking to enter CRS or you have just started in the industry, developing knowledge of emerging trends in the sector is a great way to stand out in interviews and to ensure your organisation is successful in CRS.
Here were the three key trends to watch out for from our speakers:
- Purpose led businesses: Organisations are re-thinking the status quo, looking to embed social impact into their operations, make a difference to society and innovate to make products and services that are positively impacting people and the environment.
- Net zero targets: Organisations are playing their part in decarbonising the economy towards the 1.5 degree pathway and the Paris agreement. This means organisations are setting ambitious net zero / science based targets. A diverse talent pool with jobs ranging from carbon management and energy efficiency is required to achieve these goals.
- Inclusion: Embedding diversity and inclusion practices into an organisation, establishing how young people can feel supported and the importance of BAME representation, particularly at management level.
Top tips for breaking into the industry
- Volunteering, whether that be in your local community, or supporting any CRS activities outside the remit of your role to demonstrate enthusiasm for pursuing a career in CRS
- Network as much as possible to build relationships with CRS professionals within the industry. For example, sign up to events on eventbrite, join the ICRS’ upcoming events and connect with individuals you meet via LinkedIn. Make them remember you.
- Demonstrate transferable skills and understand how they can be used in the CRS industry, even if you do not have prior CRS experience:
- Project management: PRINCE2 qualification or any practical examples (either work or study) where you have had to meet different objectives at the same time
- Stakeholder management: dealing with a range of internal and external audiences
- Resilience: With relatively small teams and budgets stretched to achieve the greatest social and/or environmental impact, it’s pivotal to be resilient and think creatively
- Consider undertaking any courses to further your knowledge
- Finding potential jobs:
- For students, there is not necessarily a clear-cut path compared to other occupations such as Accountancy or Marketing. However, there are a growing number of internships available in the CRS profession to acquire industry experience. In particular the ELBA Eagles CSR Graduate programme, where you could be placed at prestigious organisations including: EY, Credit Suisse and BUPA
- Sign up for LinkedIn job alerts with the areas of CRS that interest you most and filter by your experience level
- Demonstrating passion and commitment to pursuing a career in CRS!
Progression and Development
When moving into a managerial role, progressing from doing to leading is difficult, but leading is an important skill to develop. Being strategically and commercially minded with the ability to articulate the value of what you do, helps to build strong relationships with stakeholders and gain buy-in from senior leadership. Edie’s 2020 playbook for sustainability and energy professionals is a great resource, setting out what ‘excellence’ in the field looks like for the next generation of business leaders.
It is important to believe in your capabilities but also recognise any skill gaps and areas where you may need support. With this is mind, mentoring can be an excellent development tool for anyone who wants to learn and grow. The ICRS mentorship scheme is a great way to tap into the wisdom of an experienced CRS professional and further your network within the industry.
About the Aspire Hub
The Aspire Hub is led by a dynamic group of CRS professionals who work in a variety of industries, from the financial, legal sector to higher education. The network was set up for new and aspiring CRS professionals to share learnings, resources, educate and network. The hub is fast growing and currently has over 200 members. Their primary goal is to promote careers in CRS and provide informative learning tools and webinars requested by members.
For any questions about the Aspire Hub or the webinar, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a new or aspiring CRS professional, please join the Aspire Hub’s LinkedIn group here.