Thursday, November 18, 2010

Human capital. Your job?

This week has been a good week for CSR for HR.

We started off with Aman Singh of's absolutely fabulous review of CSR for HR which was published on This is the first part of the reivew:

"Human capital. My career. My job.

In a game of word association, how many times would 'corporate social responsibility' elicit any of the above phrases? I'll hazard a guess and say maybe one out of 10 times.

Because not until recently has there been as much analysis and commentary on the importance of CSR and sustainability. However, most of it continues to lean toward discussing the greener aspects of sustainability: it's good for the environment, a sustainable business strategy leads to profits with performance, etc.

Until last month, when a much-awaited book arrived at my doorstep: CSR for HR: A Necessary Partnership for Advancing Responsible Business Practices. Authored by Elaine Cohen, cofounder of Beyond Business Ltd., a CSR consulting and sustainability reporting firm--and a prolific blogger on CSR reporting--the book is a persuasive argument for connecting CSR with a company's human resources function. Having spent over 20 years in senior leadership positions with companies like Procter & Gamble and Unilever, Cohen's narratives come from experience. And a strong belief that corporate social responsibility must begin internally--with your company's primary stakeholders: employees."

The review also appeared on, Aman's home base
The same review also appeared on Forbes CSR blog.

I am delighted with Aman's review and am very grateful for her taking the time to write about CSR for HR.

Another fabulous article authored by Akhila Vijayaraghavan appeared on yesterday's Justmeans website. Akhila interviewed me, asking  a whole strong of questions about me, CSR, HR, CSR for HR and more.  Akhila did a wonderful job of piecing my responses together to formulate a really nice article. Akhila even remembered to ask my favourite brand of ice cream. Regular reader of my blogs know the answer to that one, but if you don't and are remotely interested, you can read Akhila's full article here.

To complete the hat trick, CSRwire  published the CSR Book Giveaway in yesterday's Daily News Alert. CSRwire ran a giveaway of  four signed copies of CSR for HR to subscribers.I understand that this was a very popular campaign and many many entries were received. The four lucky winners to whom we will be shipping free books pronto are .............. well, CSRwire will make that announcement. But a big THANK YOU to all of you who participated, to CSRwire for running the campaign and to Greenleaf Publishing for providing the books.

And to round off, as we are on the CSRwire theme, I will mention my editorial which also ran this week called "Because you are worth it. Some of you".  The editorial highlights the major recent campaigns of the global beauty care company, L'Oreal,  for the advancement of support of women. However, L'Oreal over the years has been plagued  and criticised and even fined in legal actions for discriminating against women, especially with regard to their marketing programmes. Also, whilst there are 64% of women in the L'Oreal ranks, only 19% (5 out of 26) are "worth it" enough to reach the Executive Team or Board  (including the founder of the Company and her daughter).  Read the full editorial here.

I believe this is a classic case of CSR-HR disconnect. The L'Oreal company clearly wants to be a champion of gender diversity and makes all the right noices at policy level and have made some practical progress. However, there is a misalignment of  results which shows up in the smallest of everyday actions in the marketing department and elswhere. I wonder if a stronger HR voice would be able to create a culture in which true respect for women and authentic possibilities for women to advance to the highest levels of this company would be the thing that makes the big difference. This is a company that was founded by a woman, owned (mainly) by a woman and directs most of its sales towards a female customer base. How many opportunities is this company failing to realise when so few women are deemed capable of directing it ? The closing line of my editorial ? "L'OrĂ©al's business may be about beauty products, but this company should take care that their diversity policy does not become just another line of cosmetics."

CSR for HR addresses the things that HR people need to do to be game-changers in this field. I hope at least a few bold HR people will read the book and take the core messages on board.

Human capital is EVERYBODY's job. But HR must help.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices  Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website

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