Making our job into a profession

I joined the governing board of the newly established Corporate Responsibility Officers Association almost two years ago because I have a strong interest in exploring, and hopefully more firmly establishing the role of the practitioner.  We created a committee for professional development with colleagues from Capaccio, Cisco, Crowe Horwath, Hess Oil, Molson Coors and Shared Expertise, which I have been chairing. With the help of an extended list of supportive members we explored the components that make up a profession and determined that we would focus initially on three areas (1) job descriptions (2) competencies and (3) an ethics code.

The committee has just published its first substantive piece of work, a Guidebook on Structuring and Staffing Corporate Responsibility.  Readers of my blog can download it for free here (in fact anyone can, I just like being able to say that!)   It includes job descriptions for a range of roles, describes the main competencies for the roles and discusses different organizational types for CR departments. It also includes some different perspectives on CR.

A few personal observations from the work of compiling the manual;

  • There are multiple views of the field, making the task of compiling a guidebook a challenging one. Rather than try to define a single role we described the range of roles that between the committee and other participating members captured the broad range of approaches.
  • The different views reflected differences between industry verticals and to some extent   differences in philosophy on CR. Encouragingly though there was nothing anyone wanted to include that anyone else wanted to exclude, only an expansion of horizons !
  • In taking this expansive approach we certainly did not conclude debate on what it means to be a CR practitioner, but I hope we contributed to defining the boundaries and to furthering of the debate.

I am looking forward to the next steps of a deeper dive into the competencies and, my particular passion, trying to define an ethics code for practitioners!

Please take a look at the guidebook – I hope you find it a useful tool. The many of us who contributed to it would welcome your comments.


  1. Comments 4

  2. Robert Pojasek 12:05 pm on February 24, 2011

    Thank you for posting this report, Kevin. Sustainability professionals often feel that knowledge and experience are sufficient for success at work. This report examines an International norm for competency that considers knowledge, skill, and attributes (KSAs). As someone that is involved in professional education at the Harvard Extension School (I also participated in the writing of the report), I believe that people need to spend much more time developing the skills necessary to be successful no matter how much knowledge they have. Being aware of the behavioral attributes needed, along with the knowledge and skill, will go a long way to advancing a corporate responsibility agenda. I hope that those who view this blog will read the report and will become engaged in efforts to raise the levels of competency in our field. There are also some excellent position descriptions and other information in the report.


  3. Meghan Rooney 7:54 am on February 28, 2011

    Working with the committee on the Guidebook was an extremely rewarding experience. As a consultant, I came into the project with an outsider's perspective. This project allowed me to not only share my insight, but learn from both those on the committee and those within the profession. I cannot reiterate Kevin's comments enough, "there are multiple views of the field, making the task of compiling a guidebook a challenging one." Although this made the committee's task more challenging, it is part of what drew me to the project. I believe the committee's Guidebook does an excellent job of incorporating these different views, while providing direction for the future of the profession.


  4. KevinMoss 9:29 am on February 28, 2011

    Bob, Meghan great having you both on the team. Bob's insights into KPIs that Meghan, you and your colleagues were able to integrate with the job descriptions through the harvey ball charts were great example of bringing together different skills and expertise into a combined outcome. I learned a lot from the process as well as from the materials we brought together.


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