"They drive a company's community programmes and support the development of CSR initiatives and activities," says Connie Au, divisional manager for sales and marketing recruitment at Ambition. These range from organising company volunteering activities and raising public awareness of a cause that the firm supports, to persuading a supplier to use environmentally friendly materials.
On a daily basis, Au says community and CSR managers develop programmes and oversee their execution and evaluation. They also manage the development of the corporate responsibility report.
The role requires collaboration with other business units, Au adds, such as human resources, legal and finance departments, communications and operations, to ensure that programmes address the strategic needs of businesses and are clearly communicated internally and externally.
It is also important for CSR managers to lobby support from all levels of staff. For example, when launching green initiatives, such as reducing the use of paper, CSR managers need to get management approval and explain the rationale to employees to make sure the programme is implemented effectively.
According to a survey by CSR Asia, CSR managers face problems including a lack of funding for community and philanthropic activities, insufficient capacity, and a lack of support from management and colleagues. Au says the annual salary of CSR managers, with 10 or more years of experience in communications plus three years in CSR, ranges from HK$800,000 to HK$1 million.
Climbing the corporate ladder
- Likely candidates for CSR managers include public-relations professionals who have handled CSR projects for clients, or people with experience in PR, corporate communications or corporate affairs
- Working experience in the non-profit sector is preferable, but not necessary
- Since CSR is a company-wide support role, a CSR manager could be relocated to the firm's offices in other countries to develop this function further
- The next stop for a CSR manager can be senior CSR manager or CSR director
- Candidates should be passionate about CSR and philanthropic activities, and be willing to champion causes that the company supports
- They should be sensitive to CSR topics, such as environmental protection, and corporate and employee engagement, locally and regionally
- Excellent communications and influencing skills
- Good English is essential as the role involves frequent communication with senior executives in international organisations