Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Salary survey paints picture of a profession

March 2008

EP looks at facts and figures on salary levels that are drawn from the first detailed study of the remuneration of corporate responsibility practitioners

Given that there’s now in the UK what can confidently be termed a corporate responsibility ‘profession’, it’s remarkable how little information there is in the public domain about how much the people who work in it earn and what they do.

Help is at hand, however, with findings from the first ever CSR salary survey, carried out jointly by Ethical Performance, the recruitment agency Acre Resources, and the consultancy Acona. A confidential online questionnaire drew responses in late 2007 from 281 practitioners, 85 of whom worked for FTSE 100 companies. Annual findings will be compiled from now on, making it possible to monitor trends.

The respondents – individuals with CSR and sustainability responsibilities working for companies and professional services organizations in the UK, including legal firms and other limited liability partnerships – were asked for details of their annual salary and any bonus, but not of pension or other benefits.

We now have some idea of the average wage in the sector: the median salary band is between £40,000 and £60,000 ($80,000–$120,000), with 40 per cent of the sample earning that amount. A similar percentage receives more, about half of whom take home £60,000–£80,000. Four per cent earn £120,000 or more. Two-thirds of respondents work in London. Working at a FTSE 100 company appears to bring the greatest financial rewards, with around half getting more than £60,000 and a fifth earning £80,000-plus.

Consultants are on average less well paid than company personnel, which may surprise those working for companies who believe a move into consultancy is the path to greater riches.Those who work in limited liability partnerships, which includes the big four professional services firms, are among the most highly paid. In small consultancies, by contrast, 60 per cent of respondents are on less than £40,000.

Consultants do not appear to be making up the difference with handsome bonuses. In fact, outside the big four, the largest bonuses are most commonly found in the FTSE 100, where almost one-third of respondents report receiving in excess of £15,000. Extra payments are also generous at smaller companies outside the FTSE 250, where about one in five receive bonuses of similar size.

The findings on gender are also of note. The profession appears evenly split between men and women (51 per cent female to 49 per cent male), yet there is a marked gap in the pay levels of the two sexes. A significantly larger proportion of men are in the top pay band, earning at least £120,000, and women are disproportionately represented in the two lowest bands. Only in the middle wage bands is there parity between the sexes.

The findings suggest that women devote more of their working hours to community involvement activities, while men, for their part, are more likely than women to work as an environment manager or on climate change. In areas such as reporting and stakeholder dialogue, neither sex held sway.

Finally, the survey indicates that men are more likely to occupy senior positions at managerial and director levels. In that respect, at least, the fledgling profession mirrors the general pattern found in business as a whole.

Ethical Performance subscribers can receive a complimentary copy of The CSR Salary Survey by emailing

Ethical Performance | UK & NI Ireland | CSR

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