This occupation is found in organisations that sit within the public, private or third sectors. Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability (CR&S) Practitioners are found in all industries and are increasingly a key component of virtually all types of business models where profit and growth are a means to an even greater end, such as protecting the environment and improving societal sustainability.
The broad purpose of the occupation is to be a social conscience for the organisation, helping innovate and drive ambitions for social and environmental change and make these a reality that are embedded and implemented across the organisation. The roles and responsibilities of businesses are changing rapidly; society increasingly expects that organisations should act responsibly not just to their shareholders but also to their wider stakeholders and the broader community. Business therefore is a great platform for social and environmental change and CR&S Practitioners help to drive this by delivering an organisation’s CR&S strategy (“The Strategy”), releasing the power of business to contribute positively towards social and environmental outcomes.
In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with a variety of internal and external stakeholders. Internally, CR&S practitioners interact with a wide range of staff which could be across one or multiple sites/countries. They facilitate change by helping others to understand how different roles fit within the strategy and how everyone’s contribution can impact the greater good.
Practitioners may also reach out into the community in order to work collaboratively, and in some cases to understand the views of external organisations such as charities, social enterprises, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), or local and central government. Furthermore, CR&S Practitioners are often ambassadors for their organisations, championing their CR&S strategy and expanding their network of influence to bring about positive impact.
An employee in this occupation will be responsible for contributing towards, and in some cases ownership of CR&S, campaigns, projects and events, making sure these are embedded by facilitating delivery. Depending on the size of the organisation, the CR&S Practitioner may be expected to contribute towards strategy design, internal and external communications and reporting, data management, research and horizon-scanning, and supporting budget management. Ultimately, they will be responsible for helping to ensure their organisation acts to embed The Strategy into every-day business practices and in turn managing risk and reputation.
This is not a routine office job; the CR&S Practitioner will typically be working on multiple initiatives covering a variety of geographies, focus areas, and stakeholders. For instance, some roles may be weighted towards managing employee volunteering initiatives or fundraising for charities. Others may have a stronger focus on topics like human rights, carbon reduction, waste management, energy efficiency and supply chain. The occupation can also encompass diversity, inclusion, health & safety, and well-being. Therefore, the CR&S Practitioner’s day-to-day responsibilities will vary depending on circumstances and in turn means they could work independently, in a team, or collaboratively with multiple stakeholders. While not the norm, this may mean occasionally working weekends or evenings to ensure delivery of CR&S initiatives and events. The CR&S Practitioner is also expected to be adaptable, able to thrive in a changeable environment, and support others through the process.
It is vital for a CR&S Practitioner to be passionate about social and environmental change and strive to role model ethical behaviour and values. It is also imperative for the CR&S Practitioner to understand their business, the landscape and industry it operates in, and demonstrate the value of CR&S to the business.
They work typically as part of a team in medium to larger organisations and report into a senior leader who may be a CR&S specialist. Alternatively, they may report to a different department, for example Human Resources, Communications, or Marketing. It is typical for CR&S Practitioners to put together a business case, to seek permissions and consensus from senior leaders before initiating a project.