Turning Passion for Social Impact into True CSR Expertise

Date

August 1, 2018

4 min read

Summary points:

  • People who take on Corporate Social Responsibility jobs come from diverse backgrounds, including communications, marketing and HR; many also come from non-profits or development agencies like the UN, WHO, and more.
  • As there are no baseline skills that are required for entering this field, there is a need for training in this discipline, especially as the field becomes more strategic.

The desire to “do good” in the world has gone far beyond an individual’s desire to give back. Consumers want to know the positive contributions of the companies with whom they are engaging; Employees want to work for companies who are making an impact; Multinational corporations (MNCS), who know their businesses can be used to advance positive change, have been working strategically to use their resources –money, products and even employees – as they look to create social impact initiatives.

But as the CSR sector grows, especially in Asia where the field is still nascent, one of the key barriers to successful CSR programmes is finding people with the right skills and training to implement a company’s CSR platform. Most CSR professionals gravitate towards the field from careers in communications, marketing, or even HR functions; many come from non-profits or development agencies like the UN or WHO among others, and may not have the requisite skills to maximise the potential of the CSR programmes. For example, selecting and working with the right partners, activating employees in volunteer or secondment programs, or measuring and evaluating corporate giving programs are in fact professional specialties that need to be developed over time. I had the same struggles when I first entered this field 7 years ago because there is no knowledge pre-requisite before starting a CSR career.

Having joined CSR programmes first at Credit Suisse and now at Johnson & Johnson Global Community Impact, it is clear to me that while many people across the region have the passion and the desire, and some of the skills needed, they are lacking baseline knowledge of what CSR should cover, including what should “good” look like? What does “best in class” mean? What should benchmarks of success be? How does a company tell the story of success and impact, or the story of failure and course-correction?  How do you become a strategic asset to the company?

At this year’s AVPN Conference, AVPN launched the Training Academy, the first comprehensive social investment training curriculum. By accommodating different levels of social investor engagement, the Training Academy takes major steps to help would-be CSR professionals build their skills. In collaboration with AVPN, Johnson & Johnson will be held a pilot workshop that brings together resources from the AVPN Knowledge Center and members with CSR expertise. The goal? To fulfill a mission to support the development of the social sector in the Asia Pacific region.

The case for CSR is abundantly clear. For those working in the field, there are some key resources that may be helpful:

  1. Earlier this year, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, in his annual letter to CEOs, called on companies to act responsibly, focus on social purpose, and see beyond short-term gains.
  2. The Business and Sustainable Development Commission launched a report in 2017 that calls on business leaders to set a strategy for sustainable growth and transform markets to align with the Sustainable Development Goals. It is essentially a roadmap for companies getting started on the SDGs.
  3. This article from Forbes Magazine examines CSR trends in 2018. We’ve seen these trends in action – from greater focus on inclusive, harassment-free workplace environments, to prioritizing privacy and data protection, and higher standards for suppliers.

Corporate responsibility is not a trend. There has been a sea-change in the way we do business and engage with the world around us. A true curriculum to build the skills of CSR professionals is in development – and we hope to bring more information and training opportunities to professionals working in Asia soon. Watch this space!


About Author
Angeline Chin
Angeline Chin Senior Director Johnson & Johnson

Angeline is the new Head of Global Community Impact Asia Pacific for Johnson and Johnson(JNJ). In this position, she will play an important role in designing the strategic giving for JNJ and communicating JNJ's social impact efforts both internally and externally across enterprise in this region. Prior to this, she was with Credit Suisse for 7 years as the Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Asia Pacific. Her role there was similar, working with partners across Asia focusing on education for the disadvantaged.

Angeline brings over 20 years of experience from the private sector, not-for-profit organizations and government. She started her career as a regulator with the Securities Commission Malaysia and has been working in the financial services sector throughout her career. She was also involved in setting up a Not-for-Profit organization and was the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Financial Planners of Hong Kong managing the Institute for 7 years. She is legally trained and holds a Master in Law from City University Hong Kong and a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. She is a Harvard Mason fellow.