Friday, July 30, 2010

CSR for HR, Waterstone's

Now available also at Waterstone's for pre order! Free delivery in the UK.

Nice :-)

Thanks Waterstones and Greenleaf. (Greenleaf direct-from-publisher preorder offers a nice discount!)

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional. Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What is HR really about ?

I couldnt help a sad chuckle at the irony of this post. It is called "A human resources managers guide to remembering names"

Come on folks, is this what Human Resources today has been reduced to ? Association and visualisation for remembering names ? Like if someone is called Bell, think of them as a bell ringing ? Yeah right!  What if they are called Panashilikovski?  Perhaps HR Managers should spend time visualising themselves operating appropriately in an organization with a sustainability mindset.

Remember my mantra?  It is time for Human Resources to WAKE UP to CSR !

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional. Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website

Friday, July 23, 2010

Another perspective on Green MBA's

I wrote an editorial this week for on Green MBA's entitled "Will Green MBA's save the planet"? The key point here is that it is not enough for millions of eager students to rush to study about green, clean and sustainable business - there has to be a strong recognition within corporates that these greenies are what they need to help their business become green, clean and sustainable. This requires two things: First, that Green MBA curricula are developed with the practical needs of future business sustainability in mind and two, that businesses give preference to Greenies. Who drives this? The Human Resources function, of course! And how much do HR people know about  Green MBA's and their value? I would be interested to hear from any HR Manager who has made a concerted effort to review Green MBA options and give preference to these within their recruiting process. Hmm. Any takers?

At this point, it makes sense to refer to a wonderful series of interviews conducted by Aman Singh who writes the In Good Company blog for An interesting conclusion made in the summary article, which aligns with the point I make,  is:

" [Geetanjali] Singh also realizes that she is stuck amidst a key disconnect in the job market: While some companies are reactively ramping up their CSR initiatives, they are tending to hire externally only for senior level positions. The mid- and entry-level positions in these new CSR-focused teams, however, are being filled internally. This has created a framework that is restricting business school graduates who may be equipped with a deeper understanding of the issues than the internal employee base, but lack the "industry experience" to apply for the few available senior-level jobs. "

Another insight from Ashley Jablow is quoted:

"For Jablow, who is very active in social media and regularly blogs on CSR on The Changebase, this is déjà vu. "I did numerous informational interviews over the last couple of years with CSR leaders at different companies, and their advice was always to go get functional business experience. Go work in marketing, finance, or strategy, and from there, after two or five or 10 years, create internal change and move into a CSR role internally within the company," she said. Today, she continues to run into the same advice."

So there we have it. Green MBA's are not getting the kind of reception that we would expect from sustainability minded companies. Either they are "too inexperienced", or they compete against the majority group of non-greenies for entry roles which do not require greeny stuff in the short term.

This is  short-sighted on the part of  HR leadership who need to be hiring talent for long term business sustainability. I repeat, it is time for HR to WAKE-UP to CSR.  

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional. Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website

Linking CSR and HR

Great article in the Employee Engagement Network on Linking CSR and HR by Graham Lowe who says : " It’s time to expand the triple bottom-line view of “people, planet, profits” by including how organizations can renew their human systems."

Well, Graham, we couldnt agree more!!!

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional. Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website

Friday, July 16, 2010

How exciting!

One step closer .... My book.. "CSR for HR: A Necessary Partnership for Advancing Responsible Business Practices" is now up there on the Greenleaf Publishing website, in the forthcoming section.

That's exciting !
I haven't seen a cover yet, and await the final proofs.... but this is one step closer to seeing the final product in print. Yeah!

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional. Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Proof: CSR motivates employees

This article in Rileybiz entitled  "Can doing good make a difference in job retention and turnover?". Of course, as you might expect, the answer is YES!. The  article relates to research completed by the Center for Creative Leadership who surveyed over  2,000 employees internationally. The full report can be downloaded here. The key finding is that "the higher an employee rates their organization’s corporate citizenship, the more committed they are to the organization." The other interesting finding from the research is that the "relationship between perceptions of CSR and organizational commitment is different for women and for men. Our data show that the relationship between CSR and commitment is stronger for women than it is for men".

The thing that bothers me, however validating I might find these results, is the fact that no-one appears to have measured the real outcomes. It is easy to respond to a survey saying that you find CSR important. But how many employees ACTUALLY select their roles because of this, or make this a high factor in their employer selection, or ACTUALLY stay with companies because of CSR? Intuitively, we all know that companies with CSR values have a high appeal. Research such as this certainly helps reinforce that view. But I  would welcome someone, somewhere, doing some research of employees in businesses that have actually made these choices, and a correlation between this and turnover and retention, and overall business results. It's about time we had some real data, not just inferred correlations. Won't someone do that ? I would love to research actual employee choices based on CSR perceptions and values.  

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional. Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website

Friday, July 2, 2010

Best use of CSR in HR

This article in advises that Hyder Consulting won the HR excellence Award for the Best use of CSR in HR. Best USE of CSR ? Is CSR an HR tool ? I would have thought that the Award should go to the best HR team that operates with responsibilty and accountability. Or the best HR team that works with a CSR mindset. Am I getting caught up in semantics? The category is described as:
"Judges will be looking for an organisation that has embedded corporate social responsibility throughout the organisation, in particular through its people. Entrants should demonstrate the role HR has played in the strategy and execution of CSR initiatives. They should demonstrate how CSR is making a difference to employees and the business through measurable results." Ok, could be worse. (Can you embed something not through people?)

As far as Hyder is concerned, "Judges thought the most impressive aspects of Hyder's approach to CSR was its effort to engage employees and the fact targets for 2009/2010 were agreed by senior management from its five geographic regions. These were to raise £30,000 for charity; donate 4,000 hours of staff time to charity work; establish a monitoring process for capturing data on waste, energy and water consumption; and to devise a system for recording employee travel data to set reduction targets for 2010." But wait, who were the judges - I can't tell - all I can work out is that " The HR Awards for 2010 will be judged by an expert panel of the most influential people in HR." What do HR people know about CSR ? Enough ? I doubt it.  

Hyder Consulting is an engineering company, offering advisory and design services for property and infrastructure development. The Management team of 9 men and one woman (in HR, what a surprise),("Hyder Consulting is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in the workplace."),  does appear to have a CSR commitment and have produced CSR reports for the last few years. The most recent report for 2009 (published 2010)  contains two pages (out of 19) on employees and suffers from a serious case of genericitis, though some basic positive element are included, such as 90% of employees in a survey say they are prepared to go the extra mile for the Company. However, only the good data is shared, which makes me rather suspicious. Similarly, single year data is reported. For example, employees in 2010 numbered 4,182. In the 2009 report, employees in 2009 numbered 4,694. A workforce reduction of 11%. in 12 months. That's quite a hefty number for a small company. No mention of this in the report or references to the way over 500 people were let go. Still, getting back to the awards, the report does provide  detail about how Hyder engages employees: This is basically done in two ways: appointment of CR representatives in each region, and provision of a sophisticated intranet application allowing employees to record donations and resource consumption and provide access to this data to all employees. There is certainly something to be said for this positive level of internal transparency. It would have been nice to hear more about HR processes which support the embedding of a CSR mindset in the business. How do HR do it ? What is different about the way HR functions ?

Anyway, it is good to see the inclusion of a CSR theme in HR Excellence Awards. At least that's something. And congrats to Hyder consulting for making it to the top of the shortlist beating Equity Insurance Group and Sainsbury's . However, as the tone of this post may indicate, my take on this is that it is rather primitive. Full marks for intention, but I think this award misses the point. It is not clear to me that the award encourages the adoption of a CSR mindset by the HR function, or good project management by HR to implement projects such as internal communications or employee volunteering. If the latter, HR will only be as good as the corporate strategy. If the former, the HR function will itself be transformed and support a more responsible organization whatever the business strategy. Does that make sense ?

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional. Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website
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