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The website Investopedia defines Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as: “Corporate initiative to assess and take responsibility for the company's effects on the environment and impact on social welfare.” Therefore, if your idea of a great business achievement is laying off 10,000 people so your company’s EPS (earnings per share) jumps one-eighth of one cent, then a career in Corporate Social Responsibility is not for you. The same can be said if you feel that gorging on fossil fuels is no problem because you won’t be around long enough to feel the adverse effects of the polar ice caps melting. While maximizing profits and driving share prices represent the traditional values of business, a new wave is sweeping through the culture of enterprise - that of Corporate Social Responsibility. It’s not just a state of mind anymore. Corporate Social Responsibility represents a legitimate career path. This is because more and more companies are realizing that their positions on issues like sustainability and diversity can be good for society, as well as business. As public awareness of these issues rises, public approval becomes compulsory. In other words, if the consumers find out that you’re dumping toxic waste into the river, burning dirty coal, or hiring only white males for management positions, they are likely to shun your products. So, where does the career path in Corporate Social Responsibility start? Education certainly is essential. For example, the following degrees are all great options for pursing careers in corporate social responsibility:

  • M.P.A. (Master of Public Administration): Those who earn this degree have been thoroughly trained in the administration of both government and non-government (mostly non-profit) entities.
  • M.P.P. (Master of Public Policy): The M.P.P. degree prepares students for a life devoted to public service.
  • Juris Doctor (Law Degree): A legal background, especially one that includes a specialization in a topic related to CSR (Environmental Law, for example,) can be a great entry into a CSR career.
Where can a career path in Corporate Social Responsibility lead? The possibilities are numerous and varied, but here are a few:
  • Public Service, government or otherwise: While you’re not in a corporation as such, you will likely play a role in determining policies and regulations that promote Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • The Corporate World: As stated earlier, today’s corporations are increasingly seeing good corporate citizenship as a way to promote themselves with consumers. A simple Internet search will reveal several companies actively seeking to fill positions in their C.S.R. departments or programs.
  • Consultant: Not all enterprises employ C.S.R. staff, and even those who do sometimes rely on outside consultants (as do public entities). Acquiring the credentials to provide consulting services to those in need can be just as rewarding as making policy.
The era of Corporate Social Responsibility is upon us, and it’s going to expand as the world shrinks. The interdependence of nations, peoples and enterprises means that what we do affects more and more of the world’s population, and those dedicated to acting in a socially beneficial manner will be the ones who reap the greatest and most long-lasting rewards. Qualified leaders in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility will continue to see increasing demand, responsibilities and opportunity.
This article was written by Social Media Outreach Coordinator Logan Harper on behalf of CAREEREALISM-Approved Partner, 2U — an education technology company that partners with institutions of higher education such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which provides an online Master of Public Administration, MPA@UNC. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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