Corporate- Responsibility Salary SurveyThe Corporate Responsibility Salary Survey, now in its third year, for the first time, has a global emphasis.   The results show a rising prominence of climate change and carbon as top priority for corporate social responsibility professionals.  Other trends revealed in the study are increasing salaries for middle-level professionals, a growing sense of job security and a new generation of CSR professionals who are for the first time, have not transitioned from other occupations, but have worked exclusively in CSR field.

by Tracey de Morsella, Green Economy Post

The Corporate Responsibility Salary Survey, now in its third year, for the first time, has conducted the survey globally. Authored by Acre Resources Limited, Acona, and Ethical Performance, nearly 600 CSR professionals from around the world participated provided us with the first ever detailed insight of the international corporate social responsibility job market.  In the two previous years, the survey was focused on the UK. This year,while the majority of the respondents came the UK (46%,) a quarter of the respondents were from North America, 16% from the rest of Europe and the remaining 13$ representing respondents from the rest of the world.

The highest percentages of in-house respondents work in Banking & Finance and Consumer Goods (14 per cent in each), followed by Technology and Retailing (9 per cent in each).  Ninety per cent of respondents were full-time employees, with the remainder split equally between freelancers/contractors and those working part-time. Freelancers/contractors were overwhelmingly employed within consultancies. Three-quarters of those working part-time were female.

Job Function

The rising prominence of climate change and carbon over the past few years has had a major impact on the corporate social responsibility for both consulting firms and in-house, resulting in it being a top five activity for this sector. Across the sample, reporting and performance Measurement are the top activities for both in-house employees and consultants globally. The the top  activities for those working in-house are (in order of importance) reporting, environment, community investment, climate change, and stakeholder engagement.  For consultants, the top activities are (in order of importance) reporting, audit/assurance, stakeholder engagement, climate change, and external marketing.  Community investment and philanthropy did not feature highly in the activities of respondents based in North America, whereas, in the UK, environment was the top activity (being selected as first choice by 20 per cent of respondents), marginally ahead of community investment.

Corporate Social Responsibility In House Activity
Corporate Social Responsibility In House Activity
Corporate Social Responsibility Consulting Activity
Corporate Social Responsibility Consulting Activity


CSR In-house Salaries and Bonuses
CSR In-house Salaries and Bonuses
CSR Salaries and Bonuses for Consultants
CSR Salaries and Bonuses for Consultants

Overall salary levels have been static over the last three years.  Salaries for the most senior employees – both in-house and consultants – have fallen back slightly over the last 12 months, while salaries for the middle ranks have increase.

In this year’s survey, as in previous years, consultants were not paid as generously as those working ‘in house’.  Study researchers assert that if consultants are to compete on salary in the future, it is likely that they will need to move from providing technical advice and services, to providing management consulting around sustainability.  In North America the salaries of consultants and in-house professionals are more equal.

For senior people working in-house (Directors/Heads of CSR), it would appear that the highest salaries are commanded by those working for the biggest companies (in terms of number of employees), who have responsibility for the largest CSR teams and have control of the most generous budgets.

The research suggests that for CSR professionals, the construction & property and technology sectors offer the highest salaries. This is particularly true in North America where the average salary in technology is $162k. The relatively low level of salaries of those working in banking & finance is,  Survey researchers see this trend resulting from  the more widespread economic problems that have affected the sector over the past few years.

Average In-house Salaries by Sector and Region
Average In-house Salaries by Sector and Region

Job Satisfaction

Around 80 per cent of respondents are satisfied with their jobs.  This is consistent across the board, regardless whether people are working as consultants or in-house, no matter what the gender. Ninety-five percent of participants would recommend a career in the sector, which researchers see as an alignment between personal values and the work undertaken.

Job Security

Overall, more than 80 per cent of respondents in the United State and the UK felt that their job security had improved or remained the same over the past 12 months, and this applied both to consultants and people working in-house.  50 per cent were more confident about job
security and only 6 per cent felt it had declined.

Job security in the corporate social responsibility sector is at an all time high, as 84% of CSR professionals feel their job stability has improved or remained the same in the last 12 months. In the previous year’s survey, which was conducted at the peak of the downturn (November 2008), the equivalent figure was 70%.

Researchers cite these and other trends, including a a rapid pick-up in the CSR job market, as an indication we have just started to emerge from the recession. This data reinforces the results of Sustainability Recruiting’s CSR Jobs Report that was published back in March, which noted that after a drastic 68% decline in CSR job postings, they increased by 33% over the past few months.


In addition to higher salaries and bonuses, those working in-house receive more generous. Overall, the most widespread benefit was a pension, either contributory (where the individual funds the pension in whole or part) or non-contributory (where the employer is solely responsible for funding the pension), with 93 per cent of those working in-house and 63 per cent of consultants in receipt.

Overall, just under 70 per cent of respondents were provided with medical cover. In North America the number rises to over 75 percent compared to only 50 percent in the Rest of Europe. The researchers see the differences in how these benefits are dispersed as a reflection of the different approaches to the provision of pension and healthcare in these regions.

Education and Career Path

The CSR field has well-educated employees who on average have been in this field for 14 years. However, many did not start of in CSR as their first job and have switched to CR from other roles in academia, consultancy, corporations and others.  Although the survey shows that 90% of respondents have arrived at their current positions from other spheres of activity, this means that one in ten has never actually worked in any other area. However, there is an emerging generation of corporate responsibility professionals who have only ever worked in the field.

Gender Split and Pay Differences:

While women working in CSR continue outnumber men by about 2:1, there is a significant pay gap.  This trend of pay inequity is common in a number of industries.  Women seem to dominate in the community investment roles while men work in areas related to climate change and the environment.

Roles and Salaries

The authors identified a number of generic roles with composite descriptions both for in-house employees and consultants.  Read the full report to see information on  salary and bonus, descriptions of the educational qualifications, career histories and other personal characteristics that would most likely attach to these roles.


This is the most senior CSR person in the organization and is more likely to be male than female. This individual will control an annual budget of between $500k to $1m. They will have been in full time employment for 15-20 years and there is an even chance that this was their first role in CSR.

People in this role will report to a more senior individual who has a specific and overarching responsibility for CSR within the organization. They will have been in full-time employment for 10-15 years though not necessarily in CSR (if they are from a CR background they will probably have around seven years’ experience). They will control an annual budget of between $250-$500k.


This role sits within the larger CSR team and reports to the Manager or Director/Head described above. Probably a female graduate (non-CSR related discipline) with, on average, 10 years in full-time employment, they are unlikely to have worked in CSR before this current role. If they have, it would have been for about five years.

Assistant/Team Member

This is a junior and usually an entry-level role that provides support to others within a team across a range of CSR activity. The individual concerned is just as likely to be a male or female graduate. Though they may have been in full-time employment for between 5-10 years, it is unlikely they have worked in CSR before their current role.

[If you are considering a career in corporate social responsibility or sustainability, and want to learn more, check out Considering a Career in CR or Sustainability? or What Skills are Needed to Succeed as a Sustainability Professional? ]


Director/Senior Partner/Senior Manager
This could be the owner of a smaller consulting firm, its directors and senior partners, or the most senior individual within a CSR-focused team of a larger consulting organization. Twice as likely to be male as female. They will have been in full-time employment for between 15 and 20 years and probably worked in the sector before their current role, racking up about eight years of experience in CR. They will control a budget of $250-500k.

Senior Consultant
This role is performed either by someone with an in-depth knowledge of a particular area (Environment, for example) or more wide-ranging knowledge of CSR. This role would be occupied by a male or female who has been in full-time employment for over 10 years and almost certainly worked in the sector (for about eight years) before their current role.

This role is occupied by someone with limited experience of CSR who works under the guidance and supervision of more senior colleagues. More likely to be female than male, with around eight years in full-time employment and experience working in CSR before their current role for five years.

For more information about the Corporate Responsibility Salary Survey, visit the Survey web site.

© 2010, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine,, Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine,, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.