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Professional body launches for CSR

The UK’s first professional body for people working in CSR and sustainability launched yesterday in London.

The Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS) aims to support and develop professionalism in the field of CSR by establishing standards, a code of conduct and creating L&D opportunities, provided by Ashridge Business School.

Speaking at the launch, Jennie Galbraith, international sustainability manager at British American Tobacco, said the creation of a professional body proved that CSR was “shifting from being marginal to [being at] the heart of boardroom discussions”.

“Before, CSR professionals were seen to be a bit ineffectual, but now they are grappling with huge issues in human rights, climate change and resource management," she said. "It has become a core business activity.” 

Claudine Blamey, head of stewardship at The Crown Estate, added that CSR was becoming a key issue for attracting talent, particularly younger talent.

“They are looking for organisations that have ethics and take CSR seriously, as part of the business strategy, rather than being an add-on,” she said. 

In the UK alone, there are now about 4,000 CSR and sustainability professionals and around 25,000 further people with a work-related interest in this area. 

The ICRS is open to everyone working in corporate responsibility and sustainability, including in-house professionals, consultants, academics and students. Affiliate membership is open to anyone with an interest in this area.

The professional body is being supported by major organisations including National Grid, Marks & Spencer and IBM. 

Responsible business awards

On Tuesday, National Grid claimed Business in the Community's coveted Responsible Business Award at a gala dinner attended by 1,400 people (including Princes Charles, Harry and William) at the Royal Albert Hall. 

Other winners included Novus Property Solutions (responsible small business); GSK & Glasgow Caledonian University - Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing (international award winners); EDF Energy and Okehampton College (education); and Gentoo Group (engagement and wellbeing).