Corporate Responsibility: Changing Business from the Inside Out

Find out why working for a corporation isn’t “selling out” as companies are adopting the field of corporate responsibility to the demands of an increasingly ecologically- and socially-conscious world.

| January 2013

For more than two decades, Timothy J. Mohin has worked to improve working conditions, clean up factories and battle climate change — all while being employed by some of the biggest companies in the world. In Changing Business from the Inside Out (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2012), he’s written the first practical, authoritative insider’s guide to creating a career in corporate responsibility. Mohin recounts colorful case studies from his own career, provides advice on how CR workers can have greater impact and even looks into how employees in other corporate functions can make a difference. Learn why working for a corporation isn’t “selling out” and why the emerging field of corporate responsibility will be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming years. This excerpt is taken from the introduction, “Working for Good Inside a Corporation.” 

I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had. — Margaret Mead

So, you want to save the world, but still need to earn a decent living? If this sounds like you, you have opened the right book.

The question is: how? Corporate jobs aren’t likely to send you to underserved communities to teach, and nonprofit jobs don’t usually pay very well. Most people entering the job market today are saddled with student loans and are looking for a role that will give them a financial foothold in life. Is it always one or the other — pursuing a living or pursuing your dreams? Do you have to abandon your values to earn a good salary?

The answer is: no. The emerging field of “corporate responsibility” (CR) is an attractive option that spans the traditional border between for-profit capitalism and applying your skills to help people and the planet. This field offers a way to have your cake and eat it too. In other words, you can realize your altruistic goals and still earn a decent living in the corporate world.

But wait, you say, aren’t jobs in CR rare and hard to get? Yes, this is a new field and, while there are not as many opportunities in CR as there are in more traditional business roles, it is a rapidly expanding area and new jobs are being created all the time. Further, there are many ways to contribute to social and environmental causes outside of the formal CR department. Most companies have a small CR staff that is focused on marketing their CR story, but it is the traditional business functions that create that story.

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My older son started his own business five years ago and his business flourished after he started implementing corporate responsibility projects. He received a lot of help from specialists that showed him how things must be done, he even contacted a to get professional service support. Now his company is well known for its corporate sustainability projects and all his clients know for sure his company is the best choice.