The HR Role in Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility
Your Employees Respect and Identify with Employers Who Give
The world is a smaller place thanks to the internet, global trading and new communication and technology advancements. 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 CSR responsibility programs. Furthermore, HR can manage the CSR plan implementation and monitor its adoption proactively, while documenting (and celebrating) its success throughout the company.
HR technology can help with a CSR 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
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 have 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 especially 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 carpool, encourage staggered staffing to allow after rush hour transit.
- Permit telecommuting and allow employees working remotely 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 organizations 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 for 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.
Celebrate Corporate Social Responsibility Successes
Celebrating success is important to sustain the momentum of any CSR program. Involving company leaders, and praising the success of these initiatives, gives the program real meaning.
In the rapidly expanding global workplace, the celebration of these successes not only drives the implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives but also allows sound corporate HR practices to enable them.
Additionally, the publicity about these successes creates a mutual understanding of the cultures within each region that the company serves. The local population knows that, in addition to providing jobs, the company takes an active interest in, and participates in local issues.
Three Key Areas of Corporate Social Responsibility
Focusing on three key areas of Corporate Social Responsibility can help create a cohesive map for the present and future:
Encouraging Community Relations through your HR team includes implementing reward programs, charitable contributions and encouraging community involvement and practices.
Examples of these programs include sending emails and company newsletters to staff members that highlight employees and managers involved in community relations or creating monthly reward programs to recognize efforts by individuals within the company.
Training and Development
Training and Development programs that explain the connection between the company’s core products or services and the society at large and their value to the local community. They must also identify ways in which employees can get involved in appropriate CSR projects that would sustain and direct these initiatives.
A Cohesive Global Corporate Social Responsibility Platform
Global Corporate Social Responsibility policy, centrally managed, is important to acknowledge successes and measurements according to accepted standards. Central to measuring and communicating these results is the use of a web-based Human Resources Information System (HRIS) that is available globally to employees and managers with any Web browser.
To encourage and maintain a clear and cohesive global workplace, it is critical for the entire global workforce of a company to be on a single, multi-functioning HR platform, which allows for distributing a sound corporate responsibility plan.
Having a global HR solution that offers companies flexibility, ease of use and the right mix of tools is essential to the success of both employees and employers alike, as they manage and maintain work-life balance and thrive in a changing environment that includes taking on social responsibility.
The success of your Corporate Social Responsibility plan is possible with an HRIS that provides the capability to plan effectively, control and manage your goals, achieve efficiency and quality, and improve employee and manager communications.
The flexibility of your HRIS system is critical to tracking and pursuing a sound Corporate Social Responsibility plan, and a Web-based system provides an unparalleled level of both scalability and accessibility to implement your Corporate Social Responsibility plan at a global level.
It is an increasingly important endeavor, as companies, societies, and people coexist productively and in harmony, across the planet we all inhabit.
Shafiq Lokhandwala is the founder of Glucose Trail, a global diabetes telemedicine project. He specializes in HR Technology and is the ex-CEO of NuView Systems.