Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wake up SHRM

So this is what I mean when I talk about a wake-up call for the Human Resources function. I just happened to notice that the SHRM, agruably the largest and most influential HR professional body around, is holding its annual conference next week in San Diego.(This amused me as the protagonists of my book, CSR for HR, also attend a conference in San Diego). I looked through the 96 page brochure of the conference. Of the 150 concurrent sessions, there is not one single session which covers the role of the HR Manager in partnering and advancing Corporate Social Responsibility or Sustainability. There is all the same old stuff we have come to expect from HR conferences - how to engage your employees, how to manage mergers and acquisitions, how to train better, how to communicate better, familiarity with employment law, attracting and retaining talent, carrots, sticks, leadership and the whole HR mantra ... more and more  and more of the same old boring stuff that I can't imagine sitting listening to that  for three days. (Good job I won't be, haha). About the only thing that comes marginally close is a session by Dave and Wendy Ulrich called " The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Deliver Value To Employees, Customers, Investors, And Communities." The Why of Work is the title of the Ulrich couple's new book which I have almost finished reading and will review in due course. This session at least shows evidence of a certain level of stakeholder thinking. There is one other session called Ethical Leadership, by a former Wal-Mart exec, which talks about "how vision, culture, dedication, commitment, passion, excellence, execution, and leadership all converged to build one of the largest, fastest growing businesses in history, and how these values can align, direct and sustain organizations of any size. " That's a lot to cover in 75 minutes - hope he doesn't forget the ethics part.

This agenda of the SHRM conference is a big disappointment. It says to me that HR is remaining in its inferiority-complex-driven themes of professional legitimization, fixing employees, and never letting them go. Dear HR colleagues:


or there will not be a sustainable world for you to wake up in, when you eventually decide to.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional. Contact me via www.twitter.com/elainecohen  on Twitter or via my website www.b-yond.biz/en

Friday, June 18, 2010

CSR or not at Deutsche Telekom

The CSRBot tweeted an intersting post (thanks, bot!) about Deutsche Telekom employees who are complaining that they are harrassed and intimidated with regard to forming a union inthe USA. The article says:

Workers at T-Mobile USA say the company is making a mockery of its parent’s claims of corporate responsibility. Earlier this week, Deutsche Telekom (DT), the giant German telecom company that owns T-Mobile, patted itself on the back for its “leadership” on environmental matters. But workers point out that corporate social responsibility extends beyond going green, it includes treating workers fairly. And on that score, DT and T-Mobile fail miserably. Workers say DT should “be green. not mean.”

The article  goes on to quote a report on Deutche Telekom's American Labour Practices in the workplace issued in 2009 that found that T-Mobile is conducting a vicious anti-union campaign to prevent workers from joining the Communications Workers of America (CWA). This is part of an ongoing campaign on the internet.

Deutche Telekom's labor relations practices are handled by local management in each country. I wonder where the Human Resources people are in T-Mobile Germany and what levels or responsibility they are demonstrating in relation to this issue and how strong their voice is. Freedom of association is one of the most basic labour rights and the HR function should be clearly on top of this one both as part of their professional performance and their social responsibility.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional. Contact me via www.twitter.com/elainecohen  on Twitter or via my website www.b-yond.biz/en

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

CSR HR and SME's

The brilliant Julie Urlaub of Taiga Company (  @TaigaCompany ) tweeted this link to People Practices ROI of the Top Small Company Workplaces. I took a look at some of the  practices.

Daphne Utilities with 66 employees: underwent a transformation process to create a "business enterprise guided by principles of accountability, transparency and empowerment."

A Yard and a Half Company with 18 employees:  on-site English classes for those among its workforce that don't speak English as their first language.

Dealer.com with 271 employees: employee development with job rotation and internal mentoring.

Tasty Catering with 84 employees: complimentary daily meals provide a time for people to meet and talk, while weekly bi-lingual newsletters include discussion of business performance and activities.

Maya Design with 42 employees: turning supplemental teaching work at local universities into a paid benefit and providing financial support to those among its workforce of 42 who create viable plans for new, complementary companies.

The Sky Factory with 34 employees:  leadership runs the firm entirely by consensus, involving all 34 employees in all major decisions. Also, The Sky Factory offers all of its educational programs – on topics including financial literacy, architecture and business writing – in-house.

These are some examples which caught my eye as being representative of a csr mindset - practices which go beyond legal requirements to ensure inclusion, participation, stakeholder engagement of the workforce, and in some cases, attention to issues relating to sustainability, community contribution or empowerment of individuals. It seems that even small companies can adopt such practices and, in doing so, derive benefits in terms of better business, as the Winning Workplaces site confirms. Many of these Companies may not have a Human Resources function, but are running the business in a way which makes sense to them, based on the values and enlightened approach of the leadership. In fact, CSR with regard to people practices may well be about survival rather than just a strategy for better business, though they might not define it as such.

I find this fascinating for 2 reasons:
First, that the development of CSR in SME's still has a long way to go, and yet, these outstanding examples shows that it pays off.
Second, that there is something to be learnt here in larger businesses. A csr-hr approach to people, with more of a personal consideration of people's needs, rather than a human resources process mindset, which tries to formalize and standardize, might be a clue.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional. Contact me via www.twitter.com/elainecohen  on Twitter or via my website www.b-yond.biz/en

Friday, June 4, 2010

150 HR resources

Another compilation of things relevant to HR, CSR and CSR for HR:

a great compilation of several general and content-specific Human Resources blogs, posted on Twitter by @ConnectHive

another great compilation of valuable articles relating to Human Resources Maangement, posted on Twitter by @GautamGhosh and @steveroesler. .

The thing that strikes me as I run through all the titles of blogs and articles is how these are all related squarely to the HR profession and how there is barely any overlap with CSR themes. This reinforces the need, in my mind, for a wake-up call for HR professionals to start understanding the CSR mindset and the way HR professionals can do a better job, have a better impact on people, organizations and society through a CSR-HR approach. This is not such a massive stretch, but it takes awareness, willingness and a  move out of the HR comfort-zone. More on this in my book scheduled for publication in October this year.  

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional. Contact me via www.twitter.com/elainecohen  on Twitter or via my website www.b-yond.biz/en
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