With corporates increasing focus on their social responsibility activities, the demand from professionals in CSR roles, too has evolved
By Rozelle Laha
Are you planning to apply for a role in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) department? An executive course on CSR might impress your recruiters.
Demand for qualified CSR professionals began rising in 2014, when Section 135 of the Companies Act that deals with CSR mandated companies above a certain size to spend 2% of their average profits on CSR activities.
To cater to the immediate need, companies roped in professionals with a background in communications, public affairs and human resources to handle CSR activities. Those with a background in the social sector were also hired.
With corporates increasing focus on their social responsibility activities, the demand from professionals in CSR roles, too has evolved.
“The new CSR manager should have better skills around setting governance frameworks, internal controls, budget planning, fund management, due-diligence, project management, regulatory compliance, quality control and assurance etc,” said Santhosh Jayaram, partner and head, sustainability and CSR advisory, KPMG.
While post graduates in social sciences and allied subjects are sought after for CSR roles, recruiters have also started attaching value to executive programmes with modules in CSR.
Their argument is that graduates often possess good research skills and expertise at the grassroots level but have limited exposure to the corporate world, which is why graduates need the understanding of corporate strategies to hit the ground running.
B-schools are stepping up their executive programmes to bridge this gap. “We expect a significant number of courses to be announced in this area shortly. In the interim, a number of executive programmes have been announced by reputed global and Indian institutes,” said Rohin Kapoor, director, Deloitte.
CSR became a mandatory commitment for companies with at least Rs 5 crore net profit or Rs 1,000 crore revenue or Rs 500 crore net worth in April 2014.
Demand for talent
As philanthropy has a direct impact on the sustainability of any corporation, the importance of CSR has catapulted it from the back room to the board room.
According to estimates by Thinkthrough Consulting, a social sector financial services and consulting firm, CSR is expected to grow into a job market with a demand for about 18,500 qualified professionals by 2020.
“CSR is no longer just ‘good to do’, but ‘must to do’…which propels it into an area of compliance and good governance,” said Manoj Chakravarti, chief operations officer, Centre for Corporate Governance and Citizenship, IIM Bangalore. Over the years, campuses like Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai (TISS) and Azim Premji University, Bengaluru (AZU) have become hotspots for recruiters trying to fill CSR roles.
“The demand for CSR roles from corporates in public and private sector has registered a year-on-year rise which at a conservative estimate will be at about 20-25%,” said Professor Venkatesh Kumar B, chairperson, Centre for Public Policy and Governance, and director CSR Hub, TISS.
Manoj P., head of operations at AZU, observed that the bigger opportunity enabled by CSR is not necessarily in the CSR functions of companies alone. “It is in the NGOs and civil society organisations, they support as a part of their CSR initiatives. About 40 of the 250 students were placed last year in such roles.”
Post graduates with a good understanding of the development sector, an ability to interface between the government, communities and other stakeholders, sound understanding of research techniques, domain knowledge, and understanding of socio-economic realities are in demand, Kumar added.
But, these graduates might have to brush up on knowledge of companies to bag managerial roles. “A CSR professional should be able to strategize and integrate CSR activities into the company’s business objective,” said Parul Soni, global managing partner, Thinkthrough Consulting.
Cashing in on the demand, several executive programmes have already made their way to the Indian market. While KPMG plans to launch a managerial skill development programme on CSR soon, several foreign and Indian universities are already offering executive programmes with CSR modules.
The executive education at University of Chicago Booth School of Business is one such course. “It is helpful for profit, non profit alike with CSR being an essential component of business strategy for both,” Renu Kulkarni, associate dean of executive education at the institute said.
Knowledge management in CSR is just beginning in India. While executive courses are here to stay, experts see the need for organised courses focused on both field work and corporate strategies to produce qualified professionals.