Knowledge Centre

How to find a CSR Job/Project (some thoughts)

I regularly get queries from individuals wanting to begin a career in Corporate Social Responsibility or a related field.
I wish I had good information on how to do that, but I’m not sure that I do.  There are a lot of people wanting into CSR and not a lot of paying, or even volunteer opportunities right now.

We’ve recently had a few projects slowdown or stall and I think the same is happening to many projects, as many industries, especially extractives, are facing slowdown and budget crunches.

Anyway, for what it is worth I have summarized some of my recent responses (I try to respond to everyone but do run out of time so thought I would make a post on it).

My advice is to focus on value.  Find places where you think you can add value and that are interesting and then get involved in them.

But keep your eyes open for the ones that are able to monetize the value you can help create and that may be able to share some of it with you (e.g., pay you!).   I realize that sounds vague.
Let me share a bit of my story below in case it may be helpful.  If interested, you can find more of my story here in an autobiographical address to the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Sloan Fellowship Program at Stanford Business School.

Thirty years ago when I decided I wanted to get involved in the space where business meets society I started by working with Indigenous Peoples.  I started in Canada and it soon turned international and global.

I struggled because while there was lots of value that I could create they (Indigenous Peoples) seldom had the financial resources to pay me to do the work and the monetizing of it was too often distant, cloudy and cumbersome.

And, when I could find funding for it they also wanted access to the funding (and they had a need as well) and that often created challenges.  I was often in a situation where I was literally competing with my client for resources that we both needed.  Not fun, not sustainable and too easy for both of us to lose site of the original objectives that brought us together.

So, I stepped back and ended up, in about 1998, deciding that the extractive sector was the best place for me to add value as they had real costs and problems when trouble happened where they met with society – and this was a new area for them at the time.

Still a struggle but that at least gave me a focal point and clients/industry that were able to monetize value I could create.

Anyway, something to think about.  Stay involved, stay engaged, read, write, network and always, always, always, look at value that can be created, and monetized and that you can find a way to share in.

But, be sure to start from where and how you can serve.  Then narrow that to how serving others can also serve you.
Come to think of it, that is a good strategy for life in general!

Hopefully this has all been helpful.

Best of luck with the search, and with the future that will unfold in front of you, day by day, as you go about the search.

(I didn’t want to make this post promotional so I didn’t mention the CSR training that we provide.  If that is interesting you can see upcoming programs here)

Prof. Wayne Dunn

Wayne Dunn is an award-winning global sustainability expert with extensive teaching, writing, lecturing and advisory service experience. He is supported by an extensive faculty and advisory team.