There are clear business benefits to be had through a sound corporate social responsibility program.
Tom Washington reports on what makes such schemes successful and the role HR must play. A good company delivers excellent products and services, a great one delivers excellent products and services and strives to make the world a better place. The term corporate social responsibility CSR refers to the idea that organisations should contribute wealth or resources solely dedicated to the improvement of society as a whole.
The principal of social responsibility dictates that these entities should contribute at least a small amount of resources to the general well being of humanity. Crucially, these actions should not, in any way, be profit-generating.
Benefitting from heightened awareness of climate change, inequality, and diminishing energy resources, large and small businesses alike have been under pressure to contribute to the greater good. However the report, which polled over managers about CSR capabilities, also revealed that 14 per cent of organisations saw a reduction in CSR staff and 19 per cent has a reduction in their CSR budget. So while the desire is there to act, the resources may not be readily available.
Boosting corporate reputation, or the employer brand in a competitive talent market is certainly a by product of a sound CSR strategy. Alec Bashinsky , people and performance leader at Deloitte, is responsible among other things for the attraction and retention of talent at the firm.
That means people you are trying to bring into the organisation, and those that you want to retain. Bashinsky claims, however, that CSR is not a tool to be used simply for a reputational leg-up, nor is it able to limit reputational damage if something goes awry. Younger employees, who are by and large more enlightened than their Baby Boomer colleagues on environmental and social issues, are particularly likely to choose employers whose values align with theirs.
There are definitely positive benefits to be had. Reducing waste, improving energy efficiency, even printing on both sides of paper are all things every single organisation can, and should, be on top of.
So what can an HR director do? Among the obvious areas are recruitingfor a diverse workforce, developing a culture of inclusion, generatingwellbeing programmes and creating processes through which employees canbe involved in the community through volunteering. Then there is thewhole question of reward and remuneration. How can that be? One company that put the idea of a 'living wage' on its agenda is Swisspharmaceutical company, Novartis. It is one of the first firms to definea living wage in each of its global operations, making adjustments topay to ensure employees could have a basic standard of living.
NovartisHR led the programme. Clothing retailer Timberland has taken a different approach, paying abasic wage but providing employees with a range of benefits such aseducation and help with housing.
But what role does HR play in CSR and does the profession need to take a more leading role in deciding the direction of organization's CSR. AT A GLANCE. • Human resource professionals have a key role to play to help a company achieve its. CSR objectives. Employee involvement is a critical.
Sutherland says it is a great way to engage staff, a point with whichSnell agrees. He argues that it is employee volunteering that istherefore the most important element of CSHR.
Volunteering can tap intothe issues that make employees love the company they work for and, in sodoing, it can have a dramatic impact on recruitment and retention,engagement and motivation, and personal and skills development. Theseare the issues that make a company stand out from its peers; the otherfactors are those that it needs to get right simply in order tosurvive. There have been some step changes in the past three years, but in mostcases change is not happening quickly enough.
There is no doubt that CSR is rising on the business agenda.
Thiscreates an opportunity for HR directors to lead initiatives that willimpact business delivery. With such a great opportunity, what are sometips for getting started? Do we ask our employees how we can make the employeeproposition more CSR-led? For example, does the coverage of our benefitprovision pose a CSR risk? Employees are sensitive to any lack of delivery - forexample, they will question how we can claim to be 'green' when we stilluse paper or plastic cups for coffee.
Do we offer employees a chance to get involved or to leadthese initiatives? Post-recession, business leaders are likely to be weary of new ideasthat sound like the fix for all problems. It may be advisable to use a'cloaked' strategy whereby CSR initiatives are wrapped into cost savingsor risk management exercises. The results can then be communicated morebroadly as part of a CSR agenda that already has been demonstrated inthe organisation.
Business benefits such as costreduction from reduced paper usage, risk mitigation around employeebehaviours, compensation and benefits provision can be compelling forsenior management, when positioned with business drivers in mind. Manyleading HR directors have had significant experience in building costand risk business cases for transformation functions - so they have realexpertise to add here. This can only help to raise HR's profile and giveit another reason to be at the heart of the business deliveryconversation, both internally and externally. Implement the ethical business programme: Survey internal and external HR stakeholders on satisfaction with HRperformance and impacts, needs and aspirations.
Develop a position and policy on human rights and examine all aspects ofbusiness activities that are relevant to support adherence to humanrights principles in broadest sense. Examine existing organisational culture and elements that support CSRand block CSR through series of round table discussions and reviews ofcore business processes.
CSR Managers must look to the HR function to be equal partners in the advancement of shared CSR strategy and goals, and must be proactive in inviting that partnership. NovartisHR led the programme. By Elaine Cohen I have been very vocal with my mantra "It is time for HR to wake up to CSR" for quite some time now, as it has been apparent to me that the Human Resources function has been in danger, and still is, of letting the CSR movement and all its benefits, pass the function by. Reducing waste, improving energy efficiency, even printing on both sides of paper are all things every single organisation can, and should, be on top of. Six percent is only the tip of the iceberg.
Develop a community involvement cross-company steering team to establishpotential for employee volunteering Survey employees for potentialinterest and readiness Meet potential community partners Develop apolicy and plan for volunteering activities. Establish pilot green teams comprising employee volunteers in differentdepartments Train green teams in basic environmental protection Measurecost savings and impact reductions as result of green team activity.
Reward green teams for savings and benefits If successful, roll out. Revise the employer brand, positioning it as an ethical business, reviewrecruitment plans and ensure processes support diversity andinclusion.
Review remuneration processes to ensure complete equality of opportunityin pay systems and especially gender balance. Incorporate rewards forethical behaviour in plans. Examine all existing activities that contribute to employee health,safety and wellbeing and develop a plan to improve.
Train all managers in the concepts and practices of CSR that relate tothe company and in contributions they can make in their own roles.