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CSR is toughing out the slowdown – for now

June 2008

The corporate responsibility recruitment market appears to be largely unaffected by the growing economic difficulties worldwide, although the picture is mixed.

With some recruitment areas, notably banking, showing signs of strain, specialist recruitment agencies generally report that the flow of corporate responsibility jobs is continuing unabated, with newly created positions still being advertised.

Bethany Cox, marketing executive at the Acre Resources agency, told EP: ‘Overall, despite some exceptions, we’re getting as many CSR jobs in as we were beforehand, and they are holding up very well. In fact it’s our impression that this area may be doing rather better than others.’

Paul Gosling, of the corporate environmental division of the Allen & York recruitment agency, said: ‘We’re watching things very carefully but we’ve seen no direct evidence of a big change at the moment.

‘However, I think that people are being more cautious in their hiring decisions, taking a little more time and making doubly sure they get the right person for the job.’

Another specialist recruitment agency said: ‘There has been no downturn yet and, if anything, it’s been busier recently. However, my suspicion is that a downturn will hit at some stage and there is likely to be a reaction in terms of recruitment because the area isn’t perceived in some quarters to be a generator of income.’

A spokesperson from a similar agency reported: ‘Quite a few of our FTSE 100 clients that were preparing to advertise jobs are now telling us they’re putting them on hold for the time being. When we ask when they’re likely to come back on line, we’re usually told, “When business picks up”.’

That source said some of the affected companies are in the financial sector and are directly hit by the credit crunch, but others are in utilities and leisure. One such company recently put a CSR job on hold ‘at least until next year’.

Two large UK companies recently had to pull advertisements for CSR or sustainability positions after only short exposure. In both cases, the agencies told EP, this was because of a recruitment freeze.

Other providers of CSR services appear to have been largely unaffected by the initial credit crunch, at least this far. The exception is the events sector, where there are indicators that business conditions may be worsening. A number of corporate responsibility conferences have been cancelled this year because of insufficient numbers. But otherwise there have been few obvious indications of budget cuts within corporate responsibility departments.

A recent poll of 150 British and American companies by GCI, a public relations agency, found that 143 said they planned to increase their CSR spend this year. One head of corporate responsibility at a major UK media sector business told EP: ‘Of course all companies are having to look carefully at their costs right now, but I see no evidence that CSR is being singled out for any cuts, and that’s certainly not the case in our business.’
 




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