“Corporate Social Responsibility” emerged in the 1990s as a new buzz in the business world, and since then has developed into a field with substantial and diverse career opportunities. The term ‘corporate social responsibility’ or CSR has been coined to define how companies behave in social, environmental and ethical contexts. Corporate social responsibility is about integrating the issues of the workplace, the community and the marketplace into core business strategies. Social enterprise is related to CSR through socially responsible business development. Social entrepreneurship can include social purpose business ventures, such as for-profit community development banks, and hybrid organizations mixing not-for-profit and for-profit elements, such as homeless shelters that start businesses to train and employ their residents. The new language helps to broaden the playing field. Social entrepreneurs look for the most effective methods of serving their social missions.

Career Opportunities

Career opportunities in CSR reflect the diversity of the field and incorporate the private, public, and non-profit sectors. In the private sector ‘CSR’ departments can be located in anything from the public relations, compliance, or legal divisions and be called anything from ‘human rights programs’ to ‘reputation management’ and ‘environmental risk’. The public sector CSR career options can be found mainly in national government agencies, international organizations, or specialized non-profits. There are a wide variety of NGOs, industry associations, think tanks, and academic institutions engaging in learning and/or advocacy within the CSR arena. Such groups promote and examine the use of CSR concepts within the private and public spheres. Most social entrepreneurs get started by finding a solution to an unresolved social problem, and taking action to mobilize resources toward this solution by creating a transformative enterprise. Social enterprise professionals look to take on leadership roles within an existing organization, applying management techniques to achieve social impact within the context of the nonprofit, government, or business sectors. Many alumni have chosen to work as professionals within an organization that supports social entrepreneurs, potentially a lower risk and better-resourced environment that still offers the chance to work toward large-scale social change.

Types of Jobs

  • Project management
  • Consulting
  • Human Resources
  • Public Relations
  • Community Relations

Qualifications + Skills

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Management (people, project and strategic)
  • Leadership
  • Strategic planning and goal setting
  • Field specific knowledge (ex. CSR for health)

Sample Employers

  • Academia and Research: Harvard Business School, Social Enterprise Initiative; Boston College, Center for Corporate Citizenship; MSCI
  • Associations: Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), The Danish Institute for Human Rights, Net Impact
  • Consultancies: AccountAbility, SustainAbility, Development Alternatives Inc., Weinreb Group, The Corporate Citizenship Company
  • Corporations: Exxon Mobil, Hewlett Packard, Reebok International, Home Depot, Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, Timberland
  • International Organizations: The United Nations, The World Bank
  • Nonprofits: Verite Inc., Rainforest Alliance, Amnesty International, CSR Europe, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Corporate Citizenship (CCC)
  • Socially Responsible Investing: Ethical Investment Research Services, SocialFunds.com, Calvert Investments, TCC Group, Grameen Bank

Social Enterprises

  • U*Aspire
  • Match Education
  • Mobilize.org
  • Network for Good
  • NewSchools Venture Fund
  • Nurses for Newborns
  • Operation Warm
  • Peace First
  • Peer Health Exchange
  • Playworks
  • Points of Light
  • StreetWise Partners
  • Smiles Change Lives
  • Taproot Foundation
  • The Mind Trust
  • Upwardly Global
  • Year Up
  • Youth Villages
  • ...And more!

Sample Maxwell Classes

  • Governance and Global Civil Society
  • Social Media in the Public Sector
  • Collaborative and Participatory Governance
  • UN Organizations: Managing for Change
  • Culture in World Affairs
  • Global Sustainability and Public Policy


  • Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals
  • Business Ethics Magazine
  • Business for Social Responsibility
  • CSRwire
  • Ethical Corporation
  • Idealist.org
  • Net Impact
  • CSR Job Forum

Related Career Guides

    • Consulting, Foundations, Think Tanks

PRO TIP: Because the field itself is relatively new, direct experience in the sector is less important than it might be in some other professions. Rather, transferable skills and knowledge is valued. Identify how you can apply your core skills to an organization that fits your social responsibility interests.

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