This article is written by Team iPleaders. For the first time in India, a National Law University in collaboration with India’s biggest online legal and regulatory course developer iPleaders is offering an exclusive program in Corporate Social Responsibility for Indian executives.
Born to a humble family in Orissa, young Lopamudra always dreamt of sustainable social development, but simply settled for a diploma in Hotel Management and Catering technology. A little courage two years later landed her in pursuing BA from Utkal University. Working as an Industrial Trainee and Food and Beverage Assistant, her dream was still intact. She went ahead with her masters in Human Resource from the University of Luton. It was then she started pursuing her passion, and her efforts have made her what she is today, Dr. Lopamudra Priyadarshini, is presently the Head CSR of Sonalika Group – International Tractors Limited, and has been awarded prizes by Late President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and recently from Shri Pranab Mukherjee.
This is one of the numerous success stories, which has changed the face of CSR in India.
Do you know, that CSR is one of the biggest unorganized sectors in India?
Do you know, that post-2013, CSR roles have increased in size and remuneration by 40-50%?
Do you know, CSR industry currently has more than 50,000 openings on various levels and not enough qualified experts?
What was assumed to be a mere social obligation on the part of Companies at their discretion is now a mandate which companies cannot avoid. After the notification of section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 along with Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility) Rules, 2014 the regime of CSR is on a constant uphill.
CSR is commonly understood as means for a company to achieve a balance of economic, environmental and social vitality, without compromising with the expectations of vendors, shareholders. Thus, generally, the HR managers, administrative managers, lawyers, marketing and communications individuals usually end up in the CSR department. Those with prior work experience, interest in CSR and some understanding of CSR work are likely to make the cut.
Ratification of section 135 has opened gates for professionals and freshers alike in various big corporate houses as it mandates companies having a total net worth of INR 500 Crore or more, or a turnover of INR 1000 Crore or more, or net profit of INR 5 Crore or more during a financial year to constitute a Corporate Social Responsibility Committee of the Board. The responsibility of the board is to ensure that a policy is formulated and implemented which ensures 2% investment of the average net profit of the 3 preceding years into CSR. This sudden compliance parameter has triggered the companies to go on the hiring spree and seek individuals who have relevant experience or practical knowledge about CSR.
“There is demand for people who can identify and articulate proposals, deploy projects, attract funds, work out the budget,” says Aditya Narayan Mishra, President Staffing, Randstad India, in an interview with Economic Times. In the same interview, Saket Jain, Managing partner of Vito India (executive search firm) estimates that the requirement is of 3-4 individuals in each organization, which roughly adds up to 45,000 to 50,000 new recruits needed in the industry.
Subsequent to the notification, about approximately 16,000 companies fall under the threshold limit of CSR which could result in a generation of about 22,000 Crores for CSR activities. This has further led to a reduction of state interference and growth in Company’s responsibility furthering the scope of CSR professionals. Thus, the need for managers from various sectors to manage this sort of money and take care of compliances is pivotal for every company falling within such regulatory ambit.
This step of Government has effectuated not just better corporate governance, but other healthy business ethics such as ensuring better labor care and services, better work environment for women, and manufacturing which does not hamper the environment. All these add up to the work of various HR executives and managers of all verticals. It has further lead to a never seen before need for compliance observance and management bandwidth, as budgets are big and most companies are playing in uncharted territories working or engaging with various communities resulting in a need of professionals with a different kind of skillset. Also, the need for specialized compliance professionals and auditors for CSR activities has increased as well.
Corporate Social Responsibility has diverse activities to offer. The reason for it is the affinity towards a social cause that particular organization may have. For eg., while Reliance has projects running for community development, infrastructure and environment, education and skill enhancement and community healthcare, Aditya Birla Group runs its projects around the theme of Rural Development. Not just that, CSR related opportunities can be found and bifurcated into various verticals of private, public and voluntary sectors.
What are the opportunities available to you?
As on date, the number of jobs available for this unheard profile on online portals is near about 10,000 with 8505 jobs available on monster.com, 1207 available jobs on Naukri.com, 877 on shine.com and 102 on linkdin.com which outweigh a number of other portfolios. It is pertinent to note here that these numbers are just on online platforms, where the majority of the recruiters are hiring professionals from other departments laterally. Also, it is assumed by industry standards that for every 10 jobs that are advertised there are another 80 non-advertised vacancies. So, it is only fair to assume that the number of CSR jobs available in reality is much higher.
Let us take a look at opportunities available in each of these sectors.
1) Private Sector
The larger companies are taking CSR as an opportunity rather than just compliance. Engaging communities and developing them can be extremely beneficial for a business and there are some very successful models of CSR that tremendously grew brands, created a symbiotic relationship between communities and businesses and created lasting legacies. Also, CSR is an excellent way to engage employees.
Individuals recruited for CSR are required to take care of all CSR related activities like formulation and implementation of CSR policy, coming up with plans that ensure maximum RoI from CSR activities, creating a budget and proper allocation, publicity and media coverage of CSR initiatives, an audit of CSR projects and actually ensuring the projects are successful. Bigger Companies have started coming up with a separate CSR department altogether, which ensures dedicated bandwidth and large-scale implementation of well-funded projects. Sometimes there are multiple projects being managed simultaneously, requiring larger teams. For example, Reliance is running projects around 9 major heads and Aditya Birla Group has approximately 30 projects around 5 major heads.
In several other smaller companies there may be no independent CSR teams, departments or specific CSR manager, but they may give the responsibility of CSR to any particular department or divide it amongst human resource, marketing and communications, finance, compliance or operations. For example, various companies like TCS, Capgemini, Cognizant etc., have dedicated compliance teams which execute CSR operations through the standard back office and front office departments, managed by their respective managers. Naturally, a manager here who has any credibility or past experience regarding CSR is likely to be given preference for this sort of work over others.
Opportunities are not just restricted to big corporate houses alone, legal and accounting firms are also coming up with CSR consultancy and case by case basis solutions. The pre-existing CSR client services firms have also upgraded the game and are offering good packages at an entry level.
With approximately 160 penal cases already initiated against various firms for non-compliance with CSR, even the Law Firms and individual practitioners have entered the CSR arena. Further, the mandatory disclosure requirements by the current law have made the individuals with CSR experience or fresher as one of the most required individuals in the recruitment market.
It is undeniable that the public expectations of large business houses have skyrocketed ever since the law has been notified. With an important role to play in the society and development of the country, and the power to do so, large corporations have to function in harmony with community interests, preservation of environment and nature, care about labor and human rights. It is really difficult for them to do this without support from qualified and knowledgeable professionals. As a natural consequence of the importance of CSR professionals in the business ecosystem, they tend to get paid handsomely.
According to some observers, India Inc has been binging on CSR hires.
2) Public Sector
The provisions of CSR are not applicable to private sector companies alone. They are equally applicable to all PSUs, state-managed as well as central, which inherently have a higher burden on them than private sector companies. As these corporations are intended to be run with greater public interest and welfare in mind, the role of PSUs in CSR has been pioneering in India.
The motive of CSR in public sector is not restricted to social responsibility alone but it also extends to sustainability which is a critical principle for management of PSUs, which they must pursue without hurting the sentiments and interest of stakeholders and shareholders. With changing laws, norms and time, it has become important for PSUs to deploy strong CSR teams and professionals as a part of their central strategy.
It is not uncommon to see protests and angry movements by the locals of a certain natural habitat, who generally get affected by large manufacturing or mining projects due to loss of land or livelihood. Be it the Narmada Bachao Andolan, or setting up of Tata Nano manufacturing unit at Singur, West Bengal, the protests are a major bottleneck to the smooth functioning of such corporations that take up such risky ventures in remote areas, which can at times prove to be fatal too. For instance, such a protest forced the Tatas to pull out their car manufacturing company from Singur in West Bengal. Hence, corporations are now considering if they can build deeper relations and trust with the communities which get displaced or where their projects are situated, primarily through CSR. This new opportunity is also added to the portfolio of CSR executives which has seen a steep increase in the demand. Known as, “Local People Management,” this portfolio has also seen a rise in recruitment.
The drive and need for CSR professionals can be illustrated by the fact that in 2014, Coal India recruited 120 professionals’ trainees for CSR from leading institutes all over the country. The mid-level and higher level management need is never ending as finding relevant experience and expertise on the subject is a tough nut to crack by PSUs.
3) Voluntary Sector
A more passionate and socially aware individual can also opt for career opportunities at various NGOs or social institutions. There are various industry associations as well as academic institutions, think tanks, and various government units which have been hiring professionals for teaching, learning or advocating opportunities around CSR. Also, corporates can collaborate or coordinate with various NGOs for a project. Sometimes they might even simply fund a project. CSR budgets are a good target for NGOs looking for funding to grow their impact and scale. However, to bag the right projects, they need experts who can create detailed reports, proposals and ground level databases that make a compelling case for funding.
NGOs and social organizations, both from rural and urban India, have emerged as a key recruiter of CSR professionals in the recent times. In fact, these organizations may provide more challenging and rewarding opportunities to those interested in CSR. Even various companies have social initiatives or charitable trusts that actually work at the grassroots level. These organizations are often glad to hire CSR professionals for managerial roles and their understanding of funding dynamics. Godrej Culture Lab is one of many such initiatives, which directly hires individuals from all walks of life, specifically for CSR.
NGOs working on rehabilitation and resettlement issues and other organizations concerned with forest rights, rural livelihood, healthcare regularly recruit/ consult professionals with CSR expertise.
Given the diversity and funds flowing in CSR, it is emerging to be one of the best paying sectors in the industry. CSR is currently attracting top talent from other sectors with top pay packages. For example, Vikas Goswami shifted from a communications role to CSR in Godrej. Maruti Suzuki hired Abhishek Patwardhan from the chemical industry to its CSR department. If media reports are to be believed, corporations are aggressively recruiting CSR professionals with up to 40-50% hike.
Larger the corporation, more the money. While the average salary of a CSR Vice President or General Manager could range from INR 60 to 90 Lakhs per annum, a fresher from an esteemed university can earn from INR 5 to 10 Lakhs per annum. To do a basic expectation setting, the following are the current remuneration scale in the CSR industry:
- Junior Level – Rs. 5 – 10 Lakh
- Mid – Level – Rs. 25 – 30 Lakh
- Senior Level – Rs. 60 – 90 Lakh
- CEO or CSR based exclusive positions can go up to a crore or more.
CSR might be diverse, but it has not emerged as a unique and widely accepted career path. Thus, to gain experience or expertise in the subject is a task for many. It turns out to be a major challenge as most corporations tend to hire individuals with either experience or expertise, and both of them are difficult to gain, given the paucity of courses in the country.
As per Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, more than 30,000 CSR professionals are required to develop and execute CSR initiatives and related compliances, respectively. While experts might suggest internships, but a short span of even 3 months can also not give the required insight into core functioning, developing and executing a CSR plan. Lack of experience is the major hurdle on the way to making a career in CSR. We will strongly recommend a short-term course to get started with an understanding of CSR and how it works in India.
For the first time in India, a National Law University in collaboration with India’s biggest online legal and regulatory course developer iPleaders is offering an exclusive program in Corporate Social Responsibility for Indian executives. The course duration is three months. The course does not just offer training material, but a credible certificate, which could be a testimony to your specialization. The practical insights you can gain from a course like this, as well as the continuous assessment and networking with the industry experts, can help you to dramatically enhance your chances.
All the best!