HR’s Role in Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility

The world is a smaller place thanks to the Internet, global trading and new communication and technology advances. More U.S. companies are expanding overseas, and now manage a global workforce that has unique benefits, rules/laws, and different languages and currencies. With this global expansion comes a “responsibility.” When companies are global, an important challenge in garnering success is to respect other cultures and workforce environments and start forming a global profile or social consciousness. Recognize these differences with a sound Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plan that can simultaneously increase shareholder value, boost employee engagement and increase employer brand recognition. Human Resource Departments play a critical role in ensuring that the company adopts Corporate Social Responsibility programs. Furthermore, HR can manage the CSR plan implementation and monitor its adoption proactively, while documenting (and celebrating) its success throughout the company. Human Resources technology can help with a Corporate Social Responsibility program, including reducing the company’s carbon footprint to benefit the planet. Start with these areas:

    • Implement and encourage green practices.

    • Foster a culture of social responsibility.

    • Celebrate successes.

    • Share and communicate the value of corporate social responsibility to employees and the community.

Implement and Encourage Green Practices for Corporate Social Responsibility Implement green practices to assist in environmental waste reduction, while promoting and encouraging stewardship growth, better corporate ethics and long-lasting practices that promote both personal and corporate accountability. The value inherent in embracing green aspects of corporate responsibility is clearly understood, given the direct impact that rising energy and utility costs has on employees’ pocketbooks. Conservation has become an accepted means of making our planet healthier. Reducing each employee’s carbon footprint is a great way of getting energy conservation and recycling waste initiatives off the ground. Here are suggestions to start:

    • Recycle paper, cans and bottles in the office; recognize departmental efforts.

    • Collect food and donations for victims of floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters around the globe.

    • Encourage reduced energy consumption; subsidize transit passes, make it easy for employees to car pool, encourage staggered staffing to allow after rush hour transit, and permit telecommuting to the degree possible.

    • Encourage shutting off lights, computers and printers after work hours and on weekends for further energy reductions.

    • Work with IT to switch to laptops over desktop computers. (Laptops consume up to 90% less power.)

    • Increase the use of teleconferencing, rather than on-site meetings and trips.

    • Promote brown-bagging in the office to help employees reduce fat and calories to live healthier lives and reduce packaging waste, too.

Foster a Culture of Corporate Social Responsibility

Creating a culture of change and responsibility starts with HR. Getting the younger employees, who are already environmentally conscious, excited about fresh Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives is a great way to begin. A committed set of employees who infuse enthusiasm for such programs would enable friendly competition and recognition programs.

Over the past few years, major news organizatrate ions have reported on large, trusted companies that have failed employees, shareholders and the public (i.e. Enron, Lehman, WaMu). These failures created a culture of mistrust in the corporate world. All too often, employees and employers at all levels, who competed for advancement and recognition in harsh workplaces, were forced to accept corporate misconduct and waste as “business as usual.”

Employer brands are being eroded and the once sacred trust that employees had with stable pensions, defined benefits and lifelong jobs, are being replaced with pay for performance and adjustment to new learning goals. In this environment, Corporate Social Responsibility can go a long way in rehabilitating the employer brand with potential new hires and society at large. It can help defeat the image that corporate objectives are rooted in single minded profit at the expense of society and the environment.

Social and community connections that are encouraged by employers give employees permission to involve their companies in meaningful ways with the community. Employers can connect with their employees and the community through:

    • Company matches to employee charitable contributions;

    • Community programs and volunteer days;

    • Corporate sponsorship of community events; and

    • Encouraging employees to participate in walkathons, food banks, and so forth.'


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