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March 14, 2012
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CRO Knowledge, Skills and Attributes

CRO Knowledge, Skills and Attributes
April 2010


“knowledge applies to facts or ideas acquired by study, investigation, observation, or experience” – Merriam Webster

Stakeholder Engagement
Economic Sustainability
Social Sustainability
Environmental Sustainability


“a learned power of doing something competently” – Merriam Webster

Strategic Planning
Change Management (Leadership)
Risk Management


“a word ascribing a quality” – Merriam Webster

Proactive and organized
Process focused
People sensitive

CRO Qualification: Risk Management

Role of the Corporate Responsibility Officer Regarding Risk

The CRO may directly manage, facilitate or participate in processes to reduce the likelihood or negative impact of unplanned future events. The Corporate Responsibility Officer’s role is to assist in identifying, assessing, responding and monitoring opportunities and risks to achieve business goals consistent with the organization’s shared values.

Risk Management Knowledge

Demonstrates knowledge of risk management concepts and is able to apply these concepts in one or more of areas below. Able to provide specific examples of actual involvement with risk management.

Assessing Risk

Conducts Risk Assessments
Builds Risk Models
Identifies New Risks

Managing Risk

Implements Risk Responses
Avoiding Risk
Transferring Risk (Insurance)
Reducing Risk

Monitoring Risk

Develops Risk Reporting Metrics
Reports on Risks
Within Context and Internal, External and Short Term and Long Term

Knowledge of Risks

Geographic Standards
Industry Standards
Discipline Standards

ISO 31000:2009 (Risk Management: Principles and Guidelines)

CRO Qualification: Environment

Role of the Corporate Responsibility Officer Regarding Environment

The CRO may directly manage, facilitate or participate in activities to monitor and protect the ecological systems that may be impacted by the organization. The Corporate Responsibility Officer’s role is to assist in identifying, assessing, responding and monitoring environmental risks and opportunities in the company.

Environmental Management Knowledge

Demonstrates knowledge of environmental concepts and is able to apply these concepts in one or more of the areas below. Able to provide specific examples of actual involvement with environmental programs and processes.

Environmental stakeholder engagement
Resource use, reuse and conservation
Resource loss and environmental impacts of lost resources
Resources used and lost in the supply chain and logistics
Resources used and lost in product use and end-of-life
Protection of the environment and restoration of natural habitats
Community and other NGO partnerships for environmental protection, mitigation and/or restoration
Other environmental issues (e.g., climate change mitigation and adaptation, water use and community issues, toxic and hazardous materials, ozone depleting substances)

ISO 14001:2004 (Environmental Management System Standard)
ISO 26000 Draft (Social Responsibility Guidelines, section on Environmental Responsibility)


CRO Qualification: Innovation

Role of the Corporate Responsibility Officer Regarding Innovation

The CRO may directly lead, manage, facilitate or participate in the development or refinement of new products, services and/or processes within the organization.

Innovation Knowledge

Demonstrates knowledge of innovation concepts and is able to apply these concepts in one or more of the areas below. Able to provide specific examples of actual experience with innovation.

New Product Development Processes, Tools and Metrics
Customer and Market Research
Linkage to Strategy and Planning
Linkage to Teams, People and Organizational Issues
Portfolio Management
Technology and Intellectual Property
Product Development Managers Association (PDMA) Body of Knowledge,

CRO Qualification: Governance

Role of the Corporate Responsibility Officer Regarding Governance

The CRO may directly or indirectly influence the process and structure to oversee, manage and run the organization.

Governance Knowledge

Demonstrates knowledge of governance concepts and is able to apply these concepts in one or more of the areas below. Able to provide specific examples of actual experience with influencing the governance structure of the organization.

Board of Directors & Committees, structure, independence, and competency
Business Practices & Ethics
Legal & Regulatory
Disclosure & Transparency
Enterprise Risk Management
Communication & Trust

National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) (
Crowe Horwath LLP Corporate Governance Framework

Attribute Definitions

Ethical – fair, truthful, sincere, honest and discreet
Open-minded – willing to consider alternative ideas or points of view; be inquisitive and ask a lot of questions; listens well
Proactive and organized – takes the initiative with issues and is personally organized
Systematic – shows a balanced affiliation for both tasks and people
Logical – makes decisions based on facts and reasoned logic
Decisive – reaches timely conclusions based on logical reasoning and analysis; expedites decisions methodically
Diplomatic – relates to others and shows tact in appropriate situations
Observant – shows the ability to identify both patterns and exceptions in complex situations; actively aware of physical surroundings and activities
Perceptive – instinctively aware of and able to understand situations
Flexible – shows a balanced global and detail focus
Process focused- demonstrates the ability to follow a pre-determined method; sees the interconnections between core product and service processes and the host of supporting processes
People sensitive – is sensitive to and can identify a person’s emotional state
Versatile – adjusts readily to different situations
Tenacious – persistent, focused on achieving results
Self-reliant – acts and functions independently while interacting effectively with different types of people in a range of situations and copes with change

Confident – demonstrates certainty and competency and reacts well to a variety of challenges demonstrating calm and poise in such challenging situations.


Director, Foundation/Philanthropy/Foundation Giving

Title of Position:
Director, Foundation/Philanthropy; Executive Director, Foundation Giving

Reports to:
Vice President, Corporate Responsibility

Primary purpose of the position:
This individual establishes, leads, and manages, a non-profit charitable foundation, which awards grants annually to a variety of organizations in communities where we do business. Responsible for overall strategic planning, revenue generation, financial management, organizational development, staff management, and program operations.


  • Identify the needs for the delivery of services in the community which provide opportunities for innovative grant making within the mission of the Foundation;
  • Exercise the role of facilitator around community issues, convening relevant parties, building relationships and new institutional arrangements;
  • Initiate ideas and provide policy and procedural information and guidance as needed by potential grantees;
  • Represent the Foundation through public speaking engagements, various committee participation, and contacts with community groups;
  • Oversee compliance with local, state, and federal laws necessary to keep the Foundation in good standing and maintaining its legal status
  • Review requests for grant relevance and appropriateness to Foundation priorities;
  • Review financial condition and management competency of potential grantees to assure the capability of the organization to meet the objectives and performance standards of the potential grant;
  • Assure the accurate and timely distribution of authorized funds to grantees;
  • Develop reporting mechanisms for grant recipients to monitor the achievement of grant objectives within financial and programmatic guidelines;
  • Following consultation with the Grants Committee of the Board, prepare for Board meeting agenda, a summary of requests for funds being recommended and analysis papers relevant to requests and provide reports of the progress of grants;
  • In consultation with finance committee, provide for the implementation of financial systems required for proper administration;
  • Assist the Finance Committee in preparing and presenting financial reports to the Board;
  • Prepare annual budget of the Foundation;
  • Arrange for ongoing strategic planning with Board Committee to evaluate goals, objectives, and priorities of the grant making process of the Foundation; and

Internal working relationships:

  • Foundation board of directors, Finance committee, public relations, CR team

External working relationships:

  • NGOs, local/state/fed officials, press and analysts



  • Ten years' senior management experience in either the not-for-profit or for-profit environments.
  • Ability to interact with Senior Management, Board of Directors, & Foundation Board
  • Ability to channel and synthesize expectations and needs of multiple constituencies.
  • Experience in working with an international community of people and organizations.
  • Knowledge of managing funds
  • Knowledge of government regulations for Foundation
  • Knowledge of community needs and initiatives
  • The ability to prioritize and tackle multiple tasks and see the "big picture"
  • Experience in setting strategic direction and driving it.
  • Excellent negotiation skills
  • Conflict resolution skills


  • Effective at leading and managing highly independent and self-motivated employees and volunteers.
  • A highly regarded professional stature and credibility, coupled with strong leadership skills.
  • Maturity and sound judgment are essential.
  • Should have an open and inclusive management style and be comfortable with working and resolving issues "in a fishbowl."

Director, CSR/Sustainability/Communications

Title of Position:
Director, Corporate Responsibility/Sustainability Communications, Director, CR Communications

Reports to:
Public Affairs, Communications, Corporate Affairs, Government Affairs.

Primary purpose of the position:
The individual in this role is responsible for developing and executing a comprehensive and cohesive communications strategy for both internal and external stakeholders. This individual will be expected to connect the business agenda with broader reputation and social issues, while understanding and incorporating the commercial drivers for the business into a communications strategy.
Working closely with internal groups such as PR, HR, Government Affairs, Investor Relations, and Environmental Health and Safety as well as external stakeholders such as SRIs, NGOs, customers, etc. this professional plans, develops and leads the execution of a global CR communications plan, in alignment with the company’s sustainability goals.


  • This executive plays a leadership role in the development and execution of a CR communications strategy, including driving the production of the annual corporate responsibility report, and promoting the company's CR vision and accomplishments before internal and external audiences, including building online communities through Web presence, social media and social networking sites and working with PR and analyst relations groups to promote sustainability through these stakeholders.
  • In collaboration with relevant cross functional groups, this individual drives the development of content for CSR indices including the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Oekom, Risk Metrics, KLD, CDP, etc.
  • Generate data and reports to gauge the effectiveness of print communications channels and media relations activities, and develop insights and recommendations to modify strategies as needed.
  • Act as internal knowledge resource on issue of CSR as it pertains to general information dissemination. Monitor key trends, competitive activity, and other issues of interest to the company.
  • Advise senior leaders and their key staff on communications needs related to CSR and associated issue areas.

Internal working relationships

  • Public relations, HR, Government Affairs, Investor Relations
  • Environmental Health & Safety
  • Business units, supply chain

External working relationships

  • NGOs, government agencies, SRIs, customers, partners
  • Press and analysts



  • This individual should have proven communications expertise in CR and Sustainability and be well versed in current trends in this discipline.
  • Additionally, this executive should have proven experience in driving CR communications strategies, aligned to company sustainability goals.
  • The successful candidate will have strong leadership, communication and presentation skills along with 10 -15+ years experience in strategic communications, including staff management experience and the ability to build and lead teams consisting of direct reports, consultants and agencies.
  • Proven track record including successful development and implementation of diverse communications programs that improve visibility and perception.
  • Course work and/or experience in corporate social responsibility issue area(s) involving writing, public relations and messaging.
  • Superb writing and editing ability and extensive experience with one or more widely-accepted style guides.
  • Knowledge of corporate responsibility communications and media, including leading publications, journalists and trends.
  • Experience with messaging and communications strategy development, ideally in a corporate responsibility or non-profit context.
  • Ability to build and maintain relationships and partnerships with outside organizations and represent company interests.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to interact with senior executives
  • Ability to establish and meet deadlines; ability to establish clear priorities quickly
  • Commitment to and passion for CR.
  • Excellent reputation for integrity and judgment.
  • A motivator and facilitator, persuasive, diplomatic, well networked, mental flexibility and integrity, cross functional organizational ability.
  • An undergraduate degree


  • Personal experience in and passion for sustainability and philanthropic initiatives
  • Master's degree

Vice President, Corporate Responsibility

Job Description Vice President, Corporate Responsibility 
Title of position:
Director, Vice-President, Manager / Corporate Responsibility (CR),
Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Corporate Responsibility, Corporate

Reports to:

Primary purpose of the position:
This is an operational role, providing implementation for CR initiatives and managing a team of CR experts. 
Identify trends in the external and internal environment, recognize risks and opportunities and use insights gained to formulate a comprehensive competitive strategy for the business relative to appropriate corporate citizenship challenges and to integrate corporate citizenship practices with the current business model.
Focus is on environmental, social and economic sustainability.


  • Create and implement corporate citizenship programs, policies, and procedures
  • Represent corporate citizenship strategy with other senior leadership functions to drive integration and accountability as critical component of business success
  • Embed corporate responsibility practices into all operations across organizational boundaries
  • Measure and report CR initiatives and activities
  • Lead the team that creates impactful internal and external communications influencing and inspiring others to take action and ensuring broad-based support for corporate responsibility
  • Create impactful internal and external communications influencing and inspiring others to take action and ensuring broad-based support for corporate citizenship strategy
  • Represent the company in public forums to improve stakeholder relations and corporate reputation
  • Identify risks and opportunities to the business based on stakeholder expectations and design proactive mitigation and response strategies

Internal working relationships: 

  • Operate across organizational boundaries driving the company’s corporate citizenship policy, strategy and goal implementation with limited direct authority over business leaders who must be influenced
  • Work with, communicate, influence and build consensus among other senior leadership across the company to advance corporate citizenship policies and programs
  • Regularly update governing board committee or senior steering committee on advancement of corporate citizenship goals
  • Build trusting internal relationships as a central point of contact and expert in corporate citizenship decision-making regarding issues affecting company stakeholders and reputation across businesses (supply chain management, stakeholder relations, environmental affairs, etc…)
  • Motivate and engage line level employees

External working relationships:

  • Build strong trusting relationships with key external stakeholders such as community groups, NGOs, policymakers, media, etc.
  • Build and maintain a healthy and cooperative network of peer counterparts in other organizations useful for gathering information and sharing ideas regarding corporate citizenship
  • Represent the company and maintain active participation in well-regarded professional organizations that focus on corporate citizenship


  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Strategic planner and influencer, creative thinker, innovator, visionary leader, resilient, passion for corporate citizenship, driven, entrepreneurial, cultural acuity, business acumen, charming relationship builder
  • Experience in crafting communications aimed at influencing individuals throughout all levels of a global company (C-Suite through individual contributors)
  • Experience dealing with complex and sensitive issues included under the corporate citizenship umbrella – globalization, sustainability, multi-stakeholder partnerships, community involvement, human rights, sustainable supply chain management, climate change, crisis-management, etc.
  • Emotional, political and business acumen
  • Proven ability to influence across organizational boundaries
  • High level of appreciation for and ability to conceptualize crucial stakeholder relationships


  • Master’s degree
  • Experience within industry
  • Experience within company
  • Specific experience in one of the key disciplines: environment, community relations, supply chain, diversity, etc.
  • Previous international/global experience
  • 10 years of experience with high-profile branded organization in a leadership role

Corporate Responsibility Officer

Job Description - Corporate Responsibility Officer
Alternative Titles

Executive Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, Executive Vice President, Corporate Citizenship

Reports to:
President, CEO, EVP or equivalent

Primary purpose of the position:   
This CR visionary and strategist is responsible for designing an overarching CR strategy for the Company and for crafting relevant goals, policies and programs.
Expand and elevate the Company’s understanding of the expectations of consumers, customers, employees, investors and the broader society with respect to responsible corporate citizenship.
Work closely with senior leaders, leading the effort to fulfill the commitment to CR in the design and implementation of the business strategies and operational objectives of the company.
Interact frequently with the Company’s Executive Leadership Team and leaders of business and corporate functions, mobilize the organization and collaborate in the development and implementation of CR policies and programs.
Serve as steward/champion across the entire CR landscape.


  • Best Practices. Advise the Company’s leadership on global best practices with respect to CR. Monitor and analyze the strategies, policies and programs of other similarly sized companies, to companies in the same vertical sector and to corporate leaders.
  • Risk/Benefit Analysis. Assist the Company in assessing the societal and business risks and opportunities with respect to CR. Assess, prioritize, monitor and address potential challenges and risks. Elevate emerging issues where appropriate.
  • Policy and Program Development. In collaboration with key internal stakeholders across the Company’s business units and functions, drive the development and execution of policies and programs that are consistent with the strategic framework and objectives of this program and aligned with other business strategies.
  • Goals and Measurement. In collaboration with senior leadership, develop appropriate goals and metrics and process for measuring the Company’s performance with respect to CR.
  • Stakeholder Engagement. Lead stakeholder engagement for the Company. Build strategic alliances and coalitions with key constituency groups (local, national and international political, social, and environmental leaders) whose work and missions are aligned with the Company’s priorities.
  • Business Integration. Develop CR capabilities within the organization. Educate and link different groups and functions. Ensure the implementation of policies, strategies and programs on a global basis.
  • Communications. Work effectively with the internal and external public relations and communications teams to advance the Company’s reputation with respect to CR. Represent the company in diverse complex and high- profile situations globally.
  • Management. Direct the coordination of enterprise-wide CR initiatives. Direct specific project management to ensure that CR programs, initiatives, and related activities are successfully executed. Direct the day-to-day management of CR processes and programs to ensure that the mission is maximized and resources are used effectively and efficiently.
  • Fiscal Oversight. Through the CR strategic and operational planning process, develop an understanding of the fiscal impact of the Company’s goals and priorities in this area. Develop an annual operating budget.

Internal Working Relationships:

  • Senior leadership across the company
  • Governing board committee or senior steering committee
  • Line level employees

External Working Relationships:

  • Media, financial and industry analysts, community groups, NGOs, policymakers
  • Active participation in well-regarded professional organizations that focus on corporate citizenship


  • Senior-level, progressive experience managing a CR program or related program or function.
  • Visionary thought and action leader with significant experience in and previous management responsibility for issues and activities related to CR and reporting in a global corporate setting.
  • Sophisticated understanding of the global CR landscape, key global CR issues and best practices, along with knowledge of the roles of private, nonprofit and public sectors.
  • Content expertise in at least two CR issue areas; e.g., environment, manufacturing and sourcing, supply chain issues, diversity, community involvement, etc.
  • Prior experience in devising and/or implementing a CR program; e.g., work on strategy, policy development, program development, goal setting, reporting, internal management systems, etc.
  • Demonstrated ability to anticipate trends and issues in business and society that affect the Company’s CR agenda and reputation.
  • Excellent written communications skills; excellent oral skills, including public speaking, meeting facilitation and presentations.
  • Ability to analyze and interpret data.
  • Strong business and financial acumen.
  • Bachelor’s degree


  • MBA or advanced degree in relevant field preferred.
  • Experience within industry
  • Experience within company
  • Specific experience in one of the key disciplines: environment, community relations, supply chain, diversity, etc.
  • Previous international/global experience
  • 10 years of experience with high-profile branded organization in a leadership role

Personal Qualifications/Attributes

  • A visionary, creative, strategic thinker and self-starter who is proactive and entrepreneurial.
  • Commitment to and passion for CR.
  • Innovative thinker who can constructively challenge conventional ways of thinking and introduce new ideas.
  • A strong and effective leader who can drive alignment and execution across a matrixed organization.
  • A broad proactive mindset, exceptional listening, framing and strategic abilities, and superb skills at creating new possibilities.
  • Ability to understand challenges or underlying concerns, share ideas and develop effective responses or elevate to higher management.
  • Resilient and able to adapt to significant challenges.
  • Excellent interpersonal, advocacy and political skills.
  • Strong customer service commitment for internal and external stakeholders.
  • Ability to establish and meet deadlines; ability to establish clear priorities quickly.
  • Excellent reputation for integrity and judgment.

CROA Draft Ethics Code

This code provides a set of requirements to which CROA members adhere.



CRO Association Professional Development Handouts
Chaired by Kevin Moss, BT, and the members of the CROA Professional Development Committee


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