Lopsided progress in the field of corporate social responsibility? - SmartBrief

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Lopsided progress in the field of corporate social responsibility?

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SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Sustainability — tracks feedback from nearly 18,000 leaders in corporate social responsibility. We run the poll question each Wednesday in our e-newsletter. This week’s analysis is provided by Aman Singh, senior editor of corporate responsibility at Vault.com.

Last week, we asked: Does your company have a distinct department for corporate social responsibility?

  • No, I report to environmental, health and safety: 24.32%
  • Yes, a one-person department — me: 24.32%
  • Yes: 24.32%
  • No, I report to community relations: 13.51%
  • No, I report to legal: 10.81%
  • No, I report to marketing: 2.7%

It seems those who work on or in CSR remain a small circle of dedicated souls. With half of you reporting that your company either has a separate CSR department or you are the team, it’s clear the profession is growing. What’s unclear, however, is the profession’s trajectory. With a quarter of CSR professionals reporting to the environmental, health and safety sector of the company, is corporate social responsibility being confused with sustainability? Or is it being relegated to corporate giving and community relations, as indicated by almost 14% of respondents?

Although it is somewhat heartening to see that only a small percentage reports to legal and marketing, the poll results show how haphazardly we continue to pursue CSR. In the absence of global standards, although the Corporate Responsibility Officer Association is working on this, it means years of trial and error for practitioners. And for students and job seekers interested in CSR, a market of uncertainty and lopsided progress exists.