HR must take its chance to drive CSR strategies

HR professionals are ideally placed to lead the corporate social
responsibility (CSR) agenda, according to one of the country’s leading experts.

Ed Williams, head of CSR at Marks & Spencer, and a former HR
practitioner, told Personnel Today that the function was crucial in ensuring
firms acted responsibly.

"HR is a really good starting point for working in CSR because it’s
about dealing with change and looking at the way people think," he said.
"CSR has to be embedded in the business and [needs to be] driving levels
of performance."

According to Williams, creating a workplace that engages with employees and
operates good people management practices is the cornerstone of building a
successful CSR policy.

"CSR is about people, products and places. It’s a way of thinking – a
mindset," he said. The business case for it is a powerful one. You will
sell more to more people. It helps to differentiate your business, it minimises
risks, reduces costs, drives innovation, secures partners and investments, and
helps you to recruit talent."

The chairman at M&S heads CSR governance and there is a forum of 22 CSR
‘champions’ that works to ensure best practice and consistency.

The CSR team and HR department are strategically aligned and work closely
together.

Williams said that the most difficult task was convincing employees that CSR
was a strategy worth pursuing.

Legal changes as part of the Company Law Review may soon require businesses
to include details of their CSR performance and future plans in official
reporting.

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