HR must expand its role to drive corporate social responsibility (CSR) if it
is to meet the future expectations of staff, customers and shareholders.
This was the conclusion of employers who scored highly in the first-ever CSR
index and a study on the issue published by the Chartered Institute for
Personnel Development (CIPD) last week.
More than 120 organisations took part in Business in the Community (BITC)
Corporate Responsibility Index that rated their performance in areas such as
workplace, community, environment and the marketplace.
BITC set up the index to enable companies to demonstrate that they are run
responsibly and ethically in the aftermath of the Enron and WorldCom scandals.
Paul Davis, HR director 3M, a top-rated company in the index, said HR helped
drive the firm’s CSR values, which were becoming increasingly important to the
"It’s definitely a growing area because consumers are starting to demand
it. On a wider perspective this sort of thing is part of our people’s growth
and development so HR is very important to it," he said.
Scottish Power’s HR director Stephen Dunn said his company had rated highly
in the index because of the part HR played in promoting its CSR initiatives
such as its learning in the community scheme.
"We set the tone for CSR in all our policies such as management and
staff training and leadership development," he said.
Patrick Mallon, director of benchmarking at BITC, agreed it was essential HR
supported CSR initiatives. "HR is well placed to co-ordinate and drive it
[CSR]," he said.
Mike Emmott, author of the CIPD report, concluded HR had a direct impact on
a company’s willingness to embrace CSR through areas such as recruitment,
training and communication.
"The HR department is ideally placed to develop an organisation’s
approach to CSR, which must involve promoting trust-based relationships with
employees and other stakeholders," he said.
By Ross Wigham
Feedback from the profession
Is CSR HR’s sole responsibility
Anthony Sampson, director of CSR at Aviva
"HR is a big part of the CSR agenda and the department is
responsible for a number of initiatives within the company. It is something
every-body should be aware of but it does need an engine. The index is a really
useful tool for gauging the performance of initiatives HR puts in place, but
it’s only a starting point. However, CSR is a relatively new field that’s
growing all the time."
Chris Clarke, corporate
citizenship manager, Ford UK
"HR is key to the relationship between the employer and
staff and has a very broad role [to play] in this. HR is a cornerstone of the
CSR policy at Ford."
Glynn House, employment brand
"CSR is much broader than any one department and we look
at it from the point of view of the whole business – HR has a very big role to
play in that. Consumers are increasingly demanding more responsibility and want
to know what a company’s CSR policy is."
Ed Williams, CSR director M&S
"It’s not just about involvement in the community, it’s
the whole employment picture. I wouldn’t single out HR because CSR is
everybody’s responsibility. The way a company treats its employees is a big
part of it, but shouldn’t be seen in isolation. CSR and HR have to be aligned
to the business objectives."