The corporate responsibility and sustainability (CRS) salary survey, published this month, shows a sector enjoying continued growth, maturity and high levels of satisfaction.
This detailed review of CRS professionals across the globe sheds light on the roles within the sector, organisational structures, responsibility, education and qualifications, gender, satisfaction, and – of course – pay. It is in its fifth year, with a response rate of 1,200 (a 40% increase on last time).
The survey reveals a sector gaining recognition as a mainstream business activity, with high levels of commitment to CRS from senior management teams. This trend will be underlined by the launch this summer of the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS). The ICRS will help formalise the profession and bring it a level of recognition similar to other corporate functions.
Salaries in North America and the “rest of Europe” (European countries apart from the UK) have increased since the last survey in 2012, with those working in the rest of Europe the highest paid, earning £70,500 on average. Conversely, salaries have fallen slightly in the UK and the “rest of the world” (a region encompassing Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia). UK professionals earn £55,100 on average, compared to £56,400 in 2012. Rest of the world professionals now earn £65,700 on average, compared to £66,900 in 2012.
The survey continued to underline the disparity in pay between those working in-house (average salary of £63k) and those working for a consultancy (£54k). This disparity is not offset by higher levels of bonus – giving the lie to perceptions that consultancy is, automatically, a path to riches – or more generous benefits.
The sector is characterised by highly educated individuals; 90% of respondents have an undergraduate and/or postgraduate degree, with a majority also having a master’s or PhD (60% of respondents). An increasing percentage of those with postgraduate qualifications have them in CRS-related topics.
In terms of what respondents actually do, the top area this year was CRS strategy development and implementation, for those working in-house and as consultants. CRS encompasses a very wide range of activities and disciplines. Some people still view CRS as a synonym for philanthropy and community investment, but only 8% of respondents selected this as their primary area of focus.
Although many of these findings are resoundingly positive, the survey also presents a picture of a sector beset by gender inequality. This year’s data indicates that the global average salaries for men and women are £68k and £52k respectively – a large gap, and a larger gap than in the previous survey.
Women continue to be under-represented in the most senior roles and, as a result, are paid less on average than their male counterparts. The picture is more even in middle management. In-house, women make up only 37% of directors and heads and about 60% of assistants and team members and advisors and analysts. The gender split at manager level is more equal at 52% male and 48% female. The story is very similar for consultants. Fewer than 30% of female consultants are directors and partners, while women make up over 60% of consultants and analysts. The gender split at senior consultant level is again more equal –52% male and 48% female.
The reasons for this pay and seniority gap may be many and varied and, in part, may be due to the paucity of women in sectors that, traditionally, have been male-dominated. However, that the gap exists at all and, according to the results, is growing – among those often charged with promoting diversity in the workforce – reveals a major disconnect between rhetoric and reality.
To end on a positive note, over 80% of the professionals surveyed reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs, and 93% would recommend a career in the sector. This was fairly constant regardless of gender. To me, this indicates that the sector contains individuals whose personal values align closely with what they are doing in working life.
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