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The State of CSR in Australia - Report

28 May 2009 at 1:42 pm
Staff Reporter
A new research report shows that the emerging management field of corporate social responsibility is thriving, with nearly 1,000 employed in an industry that did not exist only ten years ago.

Staff Reporter | 28 May 2009 at 1:42 pm


The State of CSR in Australia - Report
28 May 2009 at 1:42 pm

A new research report shows that the emerging management field of corporate social responsibility is thriving, with nearly 1,000 employed in an industry that did not exist only ten years ago.

The largest survey ever undertaken of the CSR industry in Australia, The State of CSR in Australia: 2008 Annual Review, published this month by the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, shows that the number of CSR management roles is expected to grow by up to 20% in 2009, with over one-quarter (28%) of organisations surveyed planning to create one or more new CSR roles this year.

However, CSR jobs are still largely in the “hidden” job market, with half those employed being internally recruited and another 18% using personal networks to find jobs. Only 16% got their jobs through a recruitment company or by responding to an advertisement.

Budgets are also proving resilient.

ACCSR Managing Director, Dr. Leeora Black says a quarter of managers say they are spending the same as last year and a third say they are spending more. Only ten per cent are cutting CSR budgets.

Dr Black says the rate of growth in CSR budgets has slowed this year, as has employment growth, but it is all still positive.

The ACCSR report shows that dealing with internal resistance to CSR is the biggest challenge faced by CSR managers, with the global financial crisis having only a modest effect.

CSR managers are much more likely to say that making the business case for CSR and dealing with internal resistance is a problem for them (65% and 40% respectively) than the global financial crisis (8%).

The minimal impact of the global financial crisis on CSR is no surprise for industry veterans, such as Westpac’s head of group sustainability and community involvement, Graeme Paterson.

Paterson says this is where corporate social responsibility comes into its own as a business proposition.

He says in terms of the current financial crisis, you have to look to the long term, not the short term. Essentially, it is about taking the risk out.

Among key findings:

•The typical CSR manager is well-educated, female and aged between 26 and 44. She is employed by a company or a government business enterprise, was internally recruited, and has worked in CSR for less than five years.

•CSR teams are small and budgets are generally modest. CSR managers therefore need to be very adept at creating influence and impact with few resources.

•The majority (59%)of CSR managers earn $60,000 or more.

•The best CSR salaries are in the mining and property development industries. The lowest-paid CSR professionals are in the transport industry or in the community relations department.

•CSR work is very diverse. It can include working directly with internal or external stakeholders on social or environmental issues, developing policy, implementing programs, measurement, and communication and reporting.

•CSR managers get intrinsic rewards from working in CSR. Their work is aligned with their personal values; they learn new skills and deal with important issues.

The report also shows that listed companies and non-government organisations have the strongest management capabilities when it comes to CSR, while state government departments have the weakest.

Dr Black says management capabilities show key aspects of the culture and processes for CSR and are a leading indicator of performance.

The report developed a business case for CSR by measuring relationships between CSR management capabilities, environmental management, business outcomes and performance.

Dr Black says the research shows that organisations which have strong corporate social responsibility management capabilities are more likely to reduce risk and conflict with stakeholders, and improve reputation and competitive advantage.

The organisations with the strongest CSR capabilities rated in the ACCSR report appear in the box below in alphabetical order.

Top Australian listed companies
Bendigo Bank
Lihir Gold Limited
Rio Tinto
Westpac Banking

Top foreign listed companies
Fuji Xerox Australia
SP Ausnet

Top government business enterprises
Delta Electricity (NSW)
Ergon Energy (Qld)
Landcom (NSW)
State Trustees (Vic)
V/Line (Vic)
Worksafe (Vic)

Top NGOs
Credit Union Foundation of Australia
Greening Australia
Mission Australia
The Benevolent Society
Wesley Mission
World Vision

Other findings:

• CSR management capabilities are powerful drivers of organisational performance. Different combinations of CSR capabilities can be leveraged for desired business performance results.

• There are positive and significant relationships between key CSR management capabilities, environmental management capabilities, business outcomes and organisational performance.

• Stakeholder engagement is the most important CSR management capability to contribute to overall organisational performance. It does so predominantly by strengthening reputation and reducing risk.

• Social accountability is the most important CSR management capability to contribute to environmental performance.

• The mining and extractives industries demonstrate the strongest average CSR management capabilities score. Professional services companies showed the lowest average CSR management capabilities scores. Their lower average scores are largely explained by the relative lack of sustainability reporting, leading to lower scores in social accountability.

What they were rated on:

CSR management capabilities comprise capabilities in stakeholder engagement, stakeholder values integration, ethical business behaviour, stakeholder dialogue and social accountability.

Environmental management capabilities comprise the ability to integrate environmental issues in business decision-making and strategic planning, and take actions to minimise environmental impact.

Business outcomes are the effects of CSR on reputation, competitive advantage, risk reduction, cost reduction, conflict avoidance and creation of new value.

Business performance is an aggregate score for self-rated environmental, social and financial performance over the last three years of the company compared to competitors with each element equally weighted.

The State of CSR report is said to be the first of its kind in Australia. Five hundred and fifteen managers, representing 352 organisations from across Australia responded to the survey during October and November 2008. The two-volume research report, provides CSR salary and role data, industry-specific information, ranks top CSR performers and makes a quantified business case for CSR.

For more information go to

To advertise your CSR jobs in our news service and online, visit

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