The lucrative business of CSR

Being a CSR manager isn't just good for your social conscience - it's also good for your bank balance...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

A CSR salary survey by Acona, Acre and Ethical Performance found that more than 70% of the CSR professionals surveyed earn at least £40,000 a year – while 15% are earning more than £80,000 a year. And there was us thinking that they were all doing it for nothing, purely out of love for best practice.

The survey (of 300 respondents in the UK) also provides some tentative figures on what you can expect to earn at the different stages of your CSR career. An entry-level support person would get £20-25k; analysts can expect £30-40k; managers tend to be paid at least £50k, and CSR directors or heads will receive anything upwards of £85k – perhaps even more in bigger companies. It’s enough to make the hardest-hearted corporate cynics repent…

Although some of the results were predictable (most of the high-earners work in the South-East, believe it or not) the survey did have some interesting pointers for CSR professionals on how to maximise their income. Apparently working for a consultancy is not the way to do it – your best bet is to try and get a job working for a FTSE 100 company or, better still, a professional services firm. That’s where the big bucks are, it says – possibly because these companies tend to pay more across the board, or possibly because the CSR managers here will generally have moved across from another senior role in the organisation.

Of course treating CSR as a discrete discipline is still a fairly new concept, so it’s unlikely to have a clear career structure yet – most respondents have been in the job less than three years, and only 30% have a relevant postgraduate disqualification. And by the normal standards of these surveys, this one is actually remarkably frank about its limitations; in particular, it admits that it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions from a sample of this size.

Still, KPMG’s CSR director Mike Kelly reckons the results sound about right. He suggests larger companies pay more because their ‘job evaluation systems’ are more sophisticated, so they can take account of less tangible skills like influencing and leadership (as opposed to just headcount or budgets). But he still thinks companies underplay the value of CSR ‘in terms of shareholder value creation rather than a sole focus on reputational issues’.
In other words, he’s worth so much more than a mere £85k...

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