Should HR take responsibility for corporate social responsibility? The
reticence of HR professionals on this subject in the past is understandable
given HR’s quest to be taken seriously as a business partner.
The last thing the profession has needed as it built its credibility over
the past decade is to be branded as a ‘touchy-feely’ function, whose job is to
look after staff and extend this mentality out into the community in the form
of public good works. So for HR people it probably has been a genuine case of
‘do a lot for charity, don’t like to talk about it’.
However, there may now be good reasons for HR to take a lead role in CSR,
according to the think-tank Demos (News, page 4). A new report argues that HR
should drive CSR initiatives by producing effective, innovative solutions to
There are advantages for staff development in CSR projects and this is
clearly the remit of HR. The work of the Lattice Group in this area should be
But the opportunity for staff development offered by CSR is not the only
reason why organisations get involved in such projects.
There are other business benefits including good corporate PR and its impact
on customers. Arguably, this too falls within HR’s remit. This is because one
of the most important benefits of being a good corporate citizen is that it can
have a positive impact on recruitment and retention of precisely the sort of
employees the company sees as its potential high-flyers.
So it is easy to build a case that HR should have a leading role in CSR
rather than leave it to other departments aided by the marketing function.
As CSR gradually moves up the business agenda, HR professionals should play
a key role in driving it forward.