Virgin pressed to rewrite CSR job

Virgin Group has redrafted the job description for a global social responsibility post after a Friends of the Earth campaigner mocked the fact that the only vital knowledge required is marketing or PR.

The post, social heroes programme manager, sits in a new division called Virgin Unite, described as "a new part of the group that will pull together the Virgin businesses around the world in order to drive positive social change".

Unite is headed by Jean Oelwang, a former Virgin Mobile Australia marketing director.

Oelwang said the Social Heroes programme is "about mobilising our staff, and eventually our customers, to support underdog charities that are doing amazing work".

The programme manager will launch Social Heroes in the UK, the US, Australia, South Africa and other countries served by Virgin Atlantic. The job description concludes: "After we get the programme rolling internally, this person will be responsible for getting customers and the public involved to truly start a volunteer revolution to support the Social Heroes."

According to the job description, the only essential qualification is marketing, and the only essential knowledge is marketing or PR. Knowledge of the Virgin brand, the charity sector, and grant processes, is described as desirable.

Shortly after the vacancy went up on a corporate responsibility internet chat group last week, Friends of the Earth parliamentary campaigner Tricia Phelan posted her own message. It read: "Virgin's level of commitment to their social/environmental goals is clearly evident in the number one requirement for this position being marketing experience."

After others chipped in to the debate, Oelwang rewrote the job description to emphasise that the marketing and PR experience was needed to galvanise the support of Virgin staff, and not to promote the Virgin brand externally.

She added that six months of consultation with "underdog charities" had shown that what they wanted most was the help of Virgin's marketing and PR expertise.

Phelan said: "Friends of the Earth has long held the opinion that corporate social responsibility is simply a PR exercise for many, and Virgin's job description confirmed this yet again."

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