Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be defined as business self-regulation in the purpose of serving the society, which includes human beings, environments and workforce. Engagement in philanthropic and volunteering activities, even if done voluntarily, certainly contributes enormously to a company image.
Human Resource (HR) professionals are highly tuned to considering CSR from both a values-based and business-case perspective. They work in a business function that readily identifies both the business benefits and the people benefits of fostering CSR alignment and integration. However, there is little guidance available to human resource leaders who wish to advance CSR within the firm. Today’s article provides a starting point for managers mapping out their strategic approach.
What are some of the tools and tactics proposed to be integrated into the HR practitioner’s daily regimen?
Successful CSR requires clearly articulated vision, mission and values. The HR practitioner could initiate or support the development, or upgrade, of a vision, mission and values if one does not exist or does not explicitly address CSR. The foundation needs to incorporate elements of corporate social responsibility or sustainability in order for it to foster alignment. Where a CSR ethic has not yet taken hold, the HR manager could champion the need and opportunity for a vision, mission and set of values and show how it can add return on investment (ROI) to the organisation, why this could be both a good business strategy and a good people strategy. The manager can bring the opportunities to the attention of the senior executive and the board on what it means, and why it makes good business sense. These are the first steps to building CSR into the company’s DNA and into the organisation’s operating and strategic framework.
Once the vision, mission and values framework are defined, the firm is ready to undertake the development of its CSR strategy. The role of the human resource manager at this phase is central to all other steps; it is critical that the human resource function be represented at table in the development of the CSR business plan and strategic direction. They have an important “people perspective” to contribute and will be involved in implementing key measures. In firms where CSR is housed in the human resource department, the HR manager has a key role in CSR strategy development. HR is a strategic partner in the organisation and, as such, can help drive the formulation of the CSR strategy.
The second tool is the development of employee code of conduct. The HR function is typically responsible for drafting and implementing employee code of conduct. As such, HR managers hold the pen on the principles contained in the employee code of conduct. This is an ideal home for the expression of an organisation’s commitment to social and environment-based decision-making as it is one of the rare documents which all employees are bound by and come into contact with. As such, it is a key tool for the cultural integration of CSR norms. It is important to avoid rhetoric and undefined terms such as “sustainability” and “CSR”, but to clearly enunciate the conduct standards expected of employees.
The third tool is workforce planning and recruitment. Workforce planning consists of analysing present workforce competencies; identification of competencies needed in the future; comparison of the present workforce to future needs to identify competency gaps and surpluses; the preparation of plans for building the workforce needed in the future; and an evaluation process to assure that the workforce competency model remains valid and that objectives are being met. Often, in the area of talent management and recruitment, some companies develop an employer brand that incorporates their CSR perspective into the employee value proposition. Other companies are profiling their CSR ethics in their recruitment branding and marketing programmes, promoting the benefits of working within a values-based culture.
The other tool is orientation, training and competency development. During the orientation process, employees should be given a thorough overview of the clear line of sight between the company’s vision, mission and core CSR values and goals. To ensure maximum alignment and early employee ‘buy-in’ to the strategic CSR direction of the organisation, this general orientation should be deemed mandatory for all levels of new employees. New employees need to be provided with information about CSR policies and commitments, the key CSR issues the company faces and the key stakeholders with which the firm engages.
Once inducted, employees should be provided with CSR training on an annual, or other regular, basis.
It is important not to overlook the probationary review. This is an ideal moment for consideration of the employee’s alignment with and commitment to the organisation’s CSR aspirations.
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