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CSR Consultants Are In Vogue

Paper people on green grass on bright background

WITH the Companies Act 2013 by the Government of India mandating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for qualifying companies, CSR is in vogue. This has its own pros and cons – the pro being now the market is in need of more CSR Professionals, and the con is we don’t have them!

Lately, we have observed demand of MSW graduates as CSR professionals. Also, due to lack of talent and certified professionals, most of the CSR positions are held by people in HR/ Marketing/ Corporate Communications/ Operations in any company.

We often see people at cocktail parties say they are CSR consultants though they may not have done any work in the field. A person may have left a management or an NGO job after a decade and then ventured into this field. When we don’t have any accredited certified course by the government, and no one to verify the authentication of an individual CSR consultant or company, it becomes difficult to decide whom to believe. Corporates for their part are bewildered and perplexed of where to use a consultant and whom to use.

So, here lies the basic question: How do we choose the right person for CSR? Is it the HR guy wearing the CSR Hat, or the Corporate Communications lady talking about CSR, or simply the guy who founded an NGO and ran it for a decade? Let’s see where they fit in this CSR Matrix:

HR Matrix 1

The generic notion that everyone is distinguished to become a CSR Professional needs to be clarified on a priority basis to build transparency in the field.

So how does one become a CSR professional?

Certificates and Degrees?

Yes, but who designs the curriculum? With the field dynamically evolving with no set national or international standards, it becomes obscure for one to understand the nitty-gritties of the field. Ideally, CSR professionals are those with a fusion of a background in Management, Law, Environment, Finance, and Social Work.

On-field experience?

Absolutely yes! This is one of those fields in which you learn more on the field to create innovative theory for the future partners to refer and make your name.

How do you choose the right talent to work with?

The best bet as I earlier mentioned are the people from a mix of social and management backgrounds. Of course, the person has to be well versed with other subjects such as Law, Environment Science and related fields as well.

mscWhy the fusion?

We need people who would both make CSR sustainable with their management acumen and also understand ground realities compassionately with their social background. The challenge is we still have to develop a curriculum which is relevant and would mould future minds in CSR to grow in the field.

For the Corporates:

Choose your CSR advisors based on the following parameters:

1) The fusion company: M+S = C

2) The number of years each expert has been on the field

3) The projects they have executed successfully

4) The credibility and credentials of the people (Most important, it’s the people who 
make great consultants)

For CSR Advisors:

Choose your corporate:

1) The corporates who are legally bound

2) Is the board genuinely interested in CSR or just covering the irresponsible acts?

3) Is the top management involved?

4) Is the corporate willing to do genuine CSR or the norm of giving away and cheque 
book philanthropy?

5) Are they considerably willing to respect your work?