Over the past few years there has been a dramatic growth in job opportunities for those pursuing careers in responsible business, with a plethora of different job titles spanning CR, social value, ESG , sustainability and so forth.
For businesses there are questions around where do these roles fit best, what should be the balance between in-house and external expertise and how large should the responsible business team be?
The answer varies but the most successful responsible business approaches certainly have some consistent features which informs resourcing, these include:
(i) clear and committed leadership - setting the right tone and leading by example;
(ii) a culture that reinforces a sense of shared responsibility, where people collaborate and get involved across the various strands;
(iii) at least one dedicated professional who can pull it all together, frame within a strategy, influence to enable delivery and utilise external consultants and service providers (where needed); and
(iv) quantitative and qualitative reporting that communicates ambition and progress, enabling stakeholders to engage and the organisation to have accountability.
The size of team will depend on who else gets involved across the business. Ideally the team should be small. It will contain the required professional knowledge but delivery is enabled through an embedded and authentic approach.
Where the team sits will be a reflection of the organisation. There are various examples from Investor Relations, Corporate Affairs, People Team, Marketing, Company Secretariat and Operations. It is worth reflecting, what does this say about the business and where can the team have the most impact? Seniority can be important too, with a path to bring things to the attention of the CEO. Over recent years there has been an increase in the direct representation at Board Level with the emergence of the Chief Sustainability Officer.