Career opportunities in corporate citizenship are as varied as the companies in which they can be found. Unfortunately, whether the position focuses on corporate community involvement – managing the company's corporate contributions or volunteer program – or a wider arching corporate citizenship program with strategic ties to the company's business strategy, there is no clear path to get there.
With few undergraduate programs offering courses directly related to corporate citizenship, let alone a formal degree program, the path to a career is often through other functions or experience. According to Center research, typical pathways into the field are from non profits, public or governmental affairs, public relations, corporate communications, human resources, marketing, EHS (environment, health and safety) operations and the government sector.
In the past few years, as the array of stakeholders has expanded and their expectations have grown, companies have restructured old jobs and created new positions. During this time we have also observed more movement in the field, with seasoned executives moving from one large company to another as opportunities become available.
For recent graduates and people just trying to break into the field, the path is even less clear.
“Corporate Careers that Make a Difference” is a guide from the Boston College Cener and Net Impact for professionals and students interested in the field of corporate citizenship. In addition to providing information on the increasing opportunities in formal corporate citizenship roles in companies, the guide also highlights professional functions not often considered part of the “field” of corporate citizenship. With bright-eyed optimism, Net Impact assures career-seekers that “with such a diversity of job functions in which these values might be applied, and so many fields clamoring to address these issues, the opportunities are endless.”
The full guide is available only to members of the Center or Net Impact. Center members can view the guide here.
If you’re not a member of either organization, you can download a sneak peak here.
Key competencies for careers in corporate citizenship
What is clear is there are certain key competencies necessary to be successful in this field. The Center has identified seven:
- Strategy: Ability to align corporate citizenship or community involvement with social and business priorities to deliver value to both the company and to society
- Issues Management: Ability to identify and track emerging issues and to implement effective resolution strategies
- Relationship Building: Ability to build mutually beneficial, trust-based relationships with internal and external stakeholders
- Communications: Ability to communicate effectively both inside and outside the company
- Program Design and Execution: Ability to operationalize strategy through the development of executable initiatives
- Performance Management: Ability to establish and track performance targets and drive continuous improvement
- Change Management: Ability to mobilize and shape organization-wide action and involvement
Management development through the Boston College Center
If you're already in a corporation, one of the best ways to advance your career is by getting involved with the Center through one or more of the following offerings:
- Education programs: Our management development programs will help you develop the skills, strategies and competencies to be successful in this field. Whether you enroll in a single program or pursue one of our certificates, this experience can increase your value to your company and, ultimately, enhance your opportunities for career advancement.
- Conferences: We provide many opportunities to meet face-to-face with your peers. Our biggest event is our annual International Corporate Citizenship Conference, which draws hundreds of professionals from around the world.
- Professional development and leadership: Speak at a conference, contribute an article, or provide advice and mentoring as a way to grow and demonstrate your leadership.
- Community Involvement Leadership Roundtable: The CI Leadership Roundtable is an ongoing forum to identify and discuss social and community development trends, review changing public policy and public expectations for corporate engagement on social issues, discuss trends, share experiences and benchmark best practices.
- Webinars: The Center hosts monthly webinars that feature the latest research and information from experts on a variety of topics.
Job listings and networking sites
There are a few search agencies that focus on the corporate citizenship field, including:
A number of organizations, including the Center, also provide online networking and job listings:
Boston College's Carroll School of Management is well represented in corporate social responsibility by Professor Sandra Waddock, one of the world’s leading experts in corporate responsibility. She is the Galligan chair of strategy at the Carroll School of Management , former editor of the Journal of Corporate Citizenship, and the author of several books on corporate citizenship, including her most recent, “The Differencemakers: How Social and Institutional Entrepreneurs Created the Corporate Responsibility Movement".
Boston College is also the home of the Leadership for Change program, which uses a multi-disciplinary academic approach to leadership development and the interplay among responsibility, accountability and profitability. The yearlong program provides credits in the MBA program and is also available as an executive learning program for mid-career professionals meeting eligibility criteria.
Only two universities offer a master's in Corporate Social Responsibility - the London Metropolitan University and the Nottingham University Business School – but many MBA programs offer a CSR component. (It is also possible to speak individually with schools to investigate designing a custom program in CSR.) This is a growing field so this list may change quickly:
Finally, the following universities offer online resources about careers in corporate citizenship: