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by Aman Singh Das | April 01, 2011


Every company is market-driven. That fact is incontestable

Given that all companies are coming from the same place, it is crucial that your marketing team not only understands the business model but can also contextualize the services to different stakeholders according to specific needs and motivations. And for many companies today, corporate social responsibility sits in this function.

Whether that’s right or wrong remains a much debated issue. After all, CSR isn't a marketing campaign; it's about your company's DNA. But survey after survey continues to show that professionals who account as CSR practitioners continue to sit in marketing, PR or communications.

And for Diane Paoletta, director of marketing for boutique accounting firm Friedman, this isn't necessarily a conflict.

I met Paoletta last year at the Conference Board's event for senior marketing executives, where we happened to share a table at lunch. Recently having returned from the Net Impact conference, my adrenaline was high and, throwing caution to the wind, I asked the table of senior management what they thought of CSR and where it should live as a function.

I might as well have dropped a bomb. Surrounded by blank faces, a few murmurs amid an awkward silence, I thought, "well, at least I tried."

As everyone resumed the conversations they had been having before my interjection, Paoletta and I began a conversation that took us to the world of accounting, her career path, her take on CSR, why having an accounting background has helped her in her marketing career and much more.

I recently reconnected with Paoletta for an interview, where we revisited many of those subjects:

Should CSR Live in Marketing?

"In one sentence, marketing is the selling of goods and services. However, today, marketing is really about how the outside world and your employees see the firm. So when you're talking about CSR, wanting to put your firm in the best light is really what my role is at the end of the day. We're all a part of the same physical and human community. And CSR touches everybody."

Marketing Our Employees is Crucial to Our Firm's Growth

"We recently did a fundraiser with the Make-a-Wish Foundation. And while it wasn’t a grand scheme, it was a good moment, a way to make a difference. And there was no pressure. Just something the firm wanted to rally behind. And we got a phenomenal response from people."

"So to me, as a marketer, I felt it was absolutely my role to help communicate that message. Even though it's not 'marketing the product,' it's marketing the firm. It's not enough to say that you provide business services; you have to go beyond that."

"And people heard that message."

HR + Marketing = CSR

"I think marketing people have to get involved. I'm trying to think of more and more ways for us as a firm to engage with our communities. A lot of people are already doing their own thing and I want to promote more of that. "

"We find that lot of the younger staff really rally around it. And about half of our employees are in the early stages of their career. We're a young firm. For employee satisfaction and retention, this is something that they really enjoy. Here's where you start blurring the lines between marketing, CSR and HR."

"Really, marketing can't be in their little silo. Maybe years ago that worked, but today it doesn’t. Especially with a smaller firm, where resources are limited; I've got to help out with people."

Career Advice: From Accounting to Marketing for an Accounting Firm
The Advertising Take on CSR: 6 Steps to Building a Responsible Company
How to Pursue a Career in Marketing


Filed Under: CSR