Corporate careers That Make a Difference net impact sustainability careers csr careersNetImpact and The Center for Corporate Citizenship are offering a free guide entitled Corporate Careers That Make a Difference provides a practical framework for career development in sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

by Green Economy Post Staff

A growing number of graduates and working professionals want to use their business careers to make a difference in social and environmental issues. Unfortunately these professionals are increasingly faced with the reality that there simply aren’t enough corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability titles to go around. Corporate Careers That Make a Difference,  a free guide released by Net Impact and the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College, sets out answers this question with more than 80 pages of practical advice, first-hand experiences, and strategic insights design to assist graduates and working professionals want to use their business careers to make a difference in social and environmental issues. The career guide also seeks to inform readers about the growing variety of positions in corporate citizenship, and how to transition from one field to another, leveraging their experiences as they move through their careers.

“More and more people want to make a positive impact on the world through the work they do,” says Liz Maw, Executive Director of Net Impact, “but there are so few resources to help them turn this aspiration into a successful career. This guide fills that gap by exploring the diversity of opportunities available in corporate citizenship, and providing hands-on advice for long-term success.”

The guide looks beyond the typical focus on dedicated job titles like Director of CSR, and instead encourages readers to explore the many functional roles in a company from which corporate responsibility and sustainability work can be done. “Corporate Careers That Make a Difference clearly demonstrates that almost anyone can have an impact, no matter where in the company they work,” Maw says. “In fact, seemingly conventional departments also provide significant opportunities for change.”

Corporate Careers That Make a Difference examines how several traditional departments can incorporate CSR and sustainability from a functional perspective. Departments reviewed include:

  • Operations
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Product Development
  • Finance
  • Compliance
  • Marketing and Brand Management
  • Dedicated Corporate Citizenship Department

The Guide also outlines a framework of eight particular competencies most useful to professionals working in this area that were initially explored in  Leadership Competencies for Corporate Citizenship (pdf; free registration and/or login required) prepared by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship . They include:

  • Change Driver – Combines vision with the persistence and drive to mobilize people around a higher purpose.
  • Strategic Influence – Leverages organizational awareness to influence others to commit to corporate citizenship.
  • Visionary Thinking – Thinks strategically and creatively, connecting the dots to find new ways to enhance corporate citizenship.
  • System Perspective – Uses an understanding of how elements of a system relate and interact to frame risks and opportunities.
  • Collaborative Networker – Uses empathy and interpersonal understanding to build mutually beneficial relationships and connect and engage diverse groups of people.
  • Peripheral Vision – Interest in the world and social and business issues that enables one to see new opportunities and risks.
  • Optimistic Commitment – Draws on optimism and strong personal belief in the potential of corporate citizenship to overcome social and business challenges.
  • Personal Maturity – An ability to achieve satisfaction by empowering others rather than through personal recognition.

[See What Skills are Needed to Succeed as a Sustainability Professional?]

Corporate Careers That Make a Difference looks at the three primary challenges faced by professionals addressing sustainability and corporate social responsibility in the corporate sector and provide solutions on how to address these challenges. They list them as:

  • Challenge: Professionals must learn how to speak the right language – To be effective in a corporate citizenship role requires buy-in from others across a spectrum of departments and levels. Therefore, professionals who want to be effective in a corporate citizenship role need to be able to convince others that change is worth acting on, often by appealing to the broader concerns of those around them. Professionals pursuing these careers must learn to communicate a business case for change.
  • Challenge: A Lonely Role – emphasis on reaching out to others can sometimes be a lonely, uphill climb, in large part because of the hurdles involved in linking the social or environmental imperative with the business imperative, but it’s also due to the fact that you may be one of the few (or only) professionals in your company addressing such issues. The best way around this sense of isolation is to build connections with key individuals within your organization.
  • Challenge: Organizational Inertia – Professionals face significant resistance to change within their organizations. They may struggle with securing resources and allocating them effectively. The Guide explains how to develop creative problem solving skills to come up with solutions where everybody wins.

The guide offers readers 23 first-hand account of the many opportunities open to those interested in corporate responsibility and sustainability via in-depth profiles of executives from Walt Disney Company, Johnson & Johnson,VISA, Target, Deloitte Services, eBay, Levi Strausse, Walmart, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Dupont, Google, Microsoft, Intel, General Electric, Mitsubishi,  and other prominent firms. Each profile contains the professionals name, title, graduate education background, and previous positions. It also includes the professional’s responsibilities and how he or she got achieved success. Invaluable information included in each profile are spotlights on one project each professional worked on, career advice shared, and challenges that each of them feels that readers should be aware of.

The Guide concludes with a three step career search plan that provides practical advice for both your job search and long-term career development.   Corporate Careers That Make a Difference was originally only made available to NetImpact members, however, due to the overwhelming response, it now being made available free to the public.

»Download the guide

Additional Resources from Net Impact and the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College:


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Author: GEP- Admin (11 Articles)

  • Matthieu Boudet

    Thank you for this report, thank you for giving information.
    Currently I am following an internship as Sustainable Development Project Manager in a big electronic Japanese company but I am looking for an other experience. I am graduated with distinction from a french-indian MBA in innovation and leadership and I had a Master in CSR Management.

    Moreover I will be happy to discuss with everyone about green issues, csr career or any subjects.

    Have a nice day

    Best regards

  • Bernard Ferret

    This is a great resource for all green job seekers. A must read!