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Thread: Corporate (social) responsibility as a career track?

  1. #1
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    Corporate (social) responsibility as a career track?

    In my job search I've seen positions in "corporate responsibility" or "corporate social responsibility" being advertised here and there. They often involve helping companies identify and develop sustainability programs, charitable giving, and advertising the results to the public. It's not "planning" work per se, but there are definitely elements that I believe planners can incorporate from their education/experience that may help them in these types of positions (sustainable practices and interaction with public agencies to name a couple of elements).

    I'm just wondering if anyone on here has thoughts on these types of positions and whether anyone knows someone with a planning background that works in corporate responsbility? It's possible that there is no nexus between planning and social responsibility and that I may be seeing something that isn't there, so I wanted to solicit responses from others who may have more insight.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    If I'm understanding it correctly, this almost sounds like being in the corporate version of a non-profit. If that's the case, I can definitely see planners having a potential niche there.

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    This kind of thing can take many forms and depending on the scenario, I can see how a planner could play an important role. I also want to say that, in this climate, day and age, its probably a good idea for planners (and everyone else) to be thinking creatively about employment. Just looking for jobs that have "planner" in the title isn't going to cut it for everyone.

    A lot of corporations set up funds, endowments, foundations, etc. that give in specific areas for which a planner (as an application reviewer and program manager) could serve a very important and useful function. Home Depot, for example, funds a good deal of affordable housing projects. But they need someone who knows about building, about community planning, pro formas, market demands, etc. to really scrutinize the applications. A planner could be a good fit, as could an architect. There are other foundations set up by corporations that address other areas that are planning-related. Planning and public health, open space development, environmental issues and much more.

    So, yeah, I could see that working for someone.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Wahday, I think the thing that makes these types of jobs so intriguing, is that they seem to go beyond the charitable giving side. In many cases they also deal with corporate recycling programs, energy usage, transportation programs (incentivizing/encouraging biking/walking/mass transit usage when commuting). All that in tandem makes me think that planners can have an impact in this sphere.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Double019 View post
    Wahday, I think the thing that makes these types of jobs so intriguing, is that they seem to go beyond the charitable giving side. In many cases they also deal with corporate recycling programs, energy usage, transportation programs (incentivizing/encouraging biking/walking/mass transit usage when commuting). All that in tandem makes me think that planners can have an impact in this sphere.
    What might be worth mentioning is that such positions are geared toward action, getting things done, marketing, networking, interpersonal skills, selling yourself and ideas, being personable, etc. Different skillsets than what many think of as the typical planner.

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    What might be worth mentioning is that such positions are geared toward action, getting things done, marketing, networking, interpersonal skills, selling yourself and ideas, being personable, etc. Different skillsets than what many think of as the typical planner.
    Good point. And one thing that has frustrated me about planning as it relates to APA and AICP. If you are working as a person who IMPLEMENTS plans, that is not considered "planning." But of course, someone has to implement and, especially when you are talking about things like community and economic development, the implementation is not only the interesting work, its also how you know if what was planned is viable and plays out on the ground the way it was intended. Without at least a dialogue between those that plan and those that make the plans happen, its very difficult to know what strategies work and what don't.

    As you can see, I prefer and work on the implementation side of things. I like to see first hand the impact of plans that are constructed in conjunction with community. And I think this is a major criticism residents often have about community planning - people come in and run a charette or other public planning process, develop a plan, and then it languishes on a shelf with no resulting action. And that planner hides his/her face every time they drive through that neighborhood...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  7. #7
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    Good point. And one thing that has frustrated me about planning as it relates to APA and AICP. If you are working as a person who IMPLEMENTS plans, that is not considered "planning." But of course, someone has to implement and, especially when you are talking about things like community and economic development, the implementation is not only the interesting work, its also how you know if what was planned is viable and plays out on the ground the way it was intended. Without at least a dialogue between those that plan and those that make the plans happen, its very difficult to know what strategies work and what don't.

    As you can see, I prefer and work on the implementation side of things. I like to see first hand the impact of plans that are constructed in conjunction with community. And I think this is a major criticism residents often have about community planning - people come in and run a charette or other public planning process, develop a plan, and then it languishes on a shelf with no resulting action. And that planner hides his/her face every time they drive through that neighborhood...
    Another interesting aspect of this is people who've "gone over to the dark side" to work at a place where you can get things done. Why would we call that "the dark side"?!

    Aside but related: my wife is forced to work with the planners in her fair city, and she is an action person. It seems a too-large fraction of the planners in her fair city do not know how to actually get things done, which makes for interesting situations all the way around. 'Planner' is often a pejorative in her office (and occasionally in our house).

    Nonetheless, all this merely to say that the mindsets are different, and surely most people in this country will have to accept the fact that we are becoming a society where most jobs are temporary, and we'll have to readjust our situation. Just because a job sounds good doesn't mean you are geared for it. Know thyself.

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