Why bother with corporate social responsibility (CSR)? If you are still
pondering on this after our front page story, consider how serious you are
about developing a high-performing business; think about some of the principles
that led you into HR as a career in the first place; and remind yourself about
the changing, demanding times in which we are living and working.
Whether we like it or not, as consumers and employees we worry more, trust
less, expect a good deal, challenge a lot and are much better informed than our
predecessors. Ethical trading is important to us both as purchasers of goods,
shareholders and as workers.
CSR is about organisations taking a responsible approach to their business
policies, practices and behaviours and in so doing earning the trust of their
employees, customers and partners. All the evidence suggests CSR is fundamental
to strong profitability and productivity (page 1) whatever the size of the
CSR is not just a fad – it’s an instrument for fashioning change. In the
words of the Boots Group HR and operations director Paul Bateman, CSR is no
longer about buffing up your corporate reputation – it’s about doing good
HR cannot ignore this trend and will need to be an instigator or at least a
major supporter of CSR going forward. Like diversity, CSR should be
mainstreamed into the organisation and owned by all functions. Few stakeholders
could argue with the concept, yet it is the business leaders who are still
paying lip service to CSR and who have been slow to make the cultural shift.
According to The Work Foundation, there is a veritable army of mediocre,
small to medium sized and even larger business that simply do not understand
CSR or the performance challenge.
There is much to learn from the foundation’s new research and from retailers
such as Marks & Spencer, which has aligned its HR and CSR teams and is
working hard to embed it into the heart of the business. This week, it launched
Marks & Start, a new community initiative to provide opportunities for
10,000 disadvantaged people who face barriers to work. Helping to drive CSR
initiatives is a great way for HR to develop its business partnering role and
have the strategic impact it deserves.
Give your team recognition
The Personnel Today Awards are up and running and we’re looking to shortlist
52 innovative HR teams. There are 13 categories in this year’s scheme,
reflecting the variety of work undertaken by HR in all types of organisations.
If your HR department has made significant contributions to the business in the
past 18 months then go to www.personneltodayawards.com for full details of how
to enter. Participation is easy and free, and you could win a glittering night
out for your team in London in October.