The changing face of CSR: an interview with Caroline Renoux

The development of positive-impact professions is gathering pace. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is more than ever a strategic challenge for businesses.
In addition to reducing the carbon footprint of their activities, companies today have to respond to three major challenges: recruiting new talent in line with the ecological transition, training existing employees to acquire 'green' skills, and implementing sustainable actions in the context of an unprecedented climate crisis.

An interview with Caroline Renoux

Caroline Renoux, founder of BIRDEO and People for Impact, talks to us about the changing face of the CSR professions.

  • Birdeo is an HR and headhunting agency that has been specialising in the sustainability sector for 13 years.
  • People for Impact is a platform for freelancers specialising in sustainability issues.

What are the emerging careers in CSR and sustainability?

They include the jobs around carbon and climate change. There are also jobs around what we call extra-financial reporting, so everything around the indicators such as ELG, environment, social and governance.  We are also seeing the emergence of double-hatted professions, such as responsible marketing, responsible communication and the green supply chain. And then there's everything to do with the circular economy which is expanding enormously creating specific new needs or things that you have to integrate into your job as a marketer or supply chain manager.

How are companies incorporating CSR into their recruitment strategy?

Recently, amid a renewed passion for ethics and sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an enticing attribute that companies are using to attract potential employees. They are naturally going to look for young graduates who already have this mindset and knowledge of CSR.

How do you see the CSR professions developing in the coming years?

Over the last 2 years, there's been a boom in this area that's only getting bigger. The wheels are already in motion, there are regulations in place, awareness is growing, and the government is working on plans to adapt to +4°C  warming.
There are going to be a lot of new jobs related to these issues, and all the current jobs will be transformed and will have to incorporate this skill.

What advice would you give to students looking to specialise in CSR and sustainability in order to stand out in the job market?

They need to highlight their training, internship or professional experiences that have particularly marked them. It is important to show an interest in the matter and to be touched by these subjects.
Secondly, it's really about developing their general knowledge and to keep up-to-date on the subject which is evolving rapidly.

So training is essential to really get to grips with the basics, but you also have to keep learning, keep informed and keep meeting people to discuss the latest development.  You can't be an expert on everything, so it's important to be able to know where to look for expertise.

What role do training programmes such as KEDGE's MSc in Business Transformation for Sustainability play in preparing candidates for the new CSR professions?

Their role is essential, because you can't improvise yourself as a CSR expert by reading books. It's really about transforming business models, so you need to acquire a new mindset and a new way of looking at things. In my opinion, following a programme like the MSc Business Transformation for Sustainability is essential if you want to acquire a solid foundation from the outset.

What skills are companies looking for in candidates applying for sustainable development jobs?

They're looking for people with a good general knowledge of the subject, who can often bring them skills that they don't necessarily have in-house, such as skills in sustainable sourcing, extra-financial reporting and carbon management. And above all, the ability to work on cross-functional projects.

In terms of emerging professions, do you see any that are starting to develop in particular?

Animal welfare comes to mind, circular economy managers, biodiversity project managers and people who have this dual role of finance and extra-financial. And then there's the whole green supply chain.

As a summary

The new economic, ecological, technological and human challenges facing our ecosystem are forcing companies to adapt and innovate in order to continue to prosper in the long term.

The CSR job market is playing an increasingly important role in our society, both professionally and personally. With these developments, new needs are emerging within companies.  Their primary aim now is to adapt and transition to this new context, to integrate innovation and give it meaning. 

Sustainable development programmes at KEDGE on the Bordeaux or Paris campuses:

MSc Business Transformation for Sustainability MSc Sustainable Finance