Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Time to put the HR in CSR

When I first wrote the book, CSR for HR, I thought of calling it something to do with CSHR, but everyone said "CSHR won't catch on! You can't use that!". I duly listened to all my learned stakeholders and call the book, CSR for HR. With hindsight, that's a better name anyway. However, I am pleased to see that the use of CSHR is catching on :), as evidenced in the article quoted below.  

The article is in HR Magazine and is entitled Time to put the HR in CSR. It was written by Anna Marie Detert, head of human capital at Buck Consultants, sponsor of the HR Leaders Club which I addressed in November.The article starts off like this:

"It is three years since HR magazine launched its Make a Difference campaign, urging HR directors to take a lead in corporate social responsibility. So has anything changed, asks Sian Harrington?

The world is considered a more corrupt place than it was three years ago. Trust in banks has declined dramatically. Employees at France Telecom and Foxconn have committed suicide due to work pressures. Meanwhile, the number of internal security breaches by staff has risen dramatically, while in 2010 alone, a third of large companies suffered deliberate misuse of confidential data.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a key element of managing risk and protecting and enhancing company reputation. But the facts above would indicate that businesses have not been taking corporate responsibility very seriously in the three years since HR magazine launched its Make a Difference campaign.

Last year's respected Trust Barometer from PR firm Edelman found that trust in business had improved slightly since 2007, but that the overall rise was minimal. The barometer (the latest of which is due out this month) also found for the first time that trust and transparency were as important to corporate reputation as quality of product and service - ranking higher than product quality in the US and much of Western Europe.

Meanwhile, a survey of 91,000 respondents from 86 countries last month by corruption monitor NGO Transparency International found that six in 10 people believed their country had become more corrupt and that the global financial crisis had undermined faith in economic institutions. Christopher Wasserman, president and founder of the Zermatt Summit, which campaigns for greater transparency and accountability in business, says business leaders need to take more responsibility and behave more ethically themselves to combat such impressions. "For stability to be restored and sustained, we urgently need to govern and run our companies with an ethical, transparent and accountable mandate, which needs to lead to a significant change in leadership behaviours - without which we are heading for further catastrophe," he believes.

Against this background, CSR Europe launched the Enterprise 2020 initiative in October last year. Some 70 global companies and 27 European business associations are involved in the initiative to create a sustainable future through examining various questions - from how to embed sustainability into a global supply chain to how to foster healthier lifestyles in the workplace.

More recently, IBM UK brought together thought leaders in business, government and academia as part of national initiative 'Start', developed by The Prince's Charities Foundation to promote and celebrate sustainable living. At the event Stephen Leonard, IBM UK & Ireland chief executive, said the coming decade had to be one of action and decision.

"Designers and architects are taught differently to businesspeople. When they design a chair, they do not just think about the chair, but the chair in the room, the room in the house, the house on the street and the street in the environment. This is the level and type of thinking we need in our people and skills if we are to have a long-term impact," he said.

Yet in all the discussion about corporate responsibility, there appears to be a major missing link - that of HR. Three years on from our campaign to encourage HR to take a leading role in embedding corporate responsibility into organisational culture, there is still, on the whole, a lack of buy-in. Yet HR plays a crucial role in ensuring the right corporate climate and practices that enable businesses to succeed in a responsible way.

"The big message is that it is time for HR to wake up to CSR," states former HR director Elaine Cohen, who has written a book on the subject, CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices. "

Anna Marie then goes on to describe the rationale for CSHR with commentaries from a range of HR practitioners and examples from Skills Venture, InterfaceFlor,  B&Q and others, and offering practical tips for HR Directors and a roadmap to CSR (from my book). Read the full article here.

I am of course delighted to see that the lingo is catching on, and hope that the HR professional community will also catch on. HR Magazine does a great job of bringing awareness of CSHR issues to the HR community, there is always a lot of content relating to values, ethics in business, responsible HR practices and more in the magazine. HR Magazine is a great resource for CSR, HR and CSHR Managers. With such a committed group of people behind the CSHR concept, I am confident 2011 will be the year that HR wakes up to CSR!

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices.   Contact me via www.twitter.com/elainecohen  on Twitter or via my website www.b-yond.biz/en

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Banker philantropists. Not.

The Financial Times reports that Credit Suisse now requires its senior managers to donate part of their bonuses to charity.  More details on this new compensation structure can be found on the Credit Suisse press release website , though compulsory donations are not mentioned there. The FT article starts off as follows:

"Credit Suisse has become the first bank to force its staff to make compulsory charitable donations, with several hundred US managing directors directed to give 2.5 per cent of their 2010 bonuses to good causes.
The Swiss bank, which estimated the scheme would raise up to $30m for charity, said it would only apply in the US for tax and administrative reasons, but it could be extended in future."

I am not a financial geek and don't pretend to understand the complexities of fixing compensation levels to comply with all forms of regulation, tax-breaks, fical responsibilities and all that. However, if anyone should be fooled into thinking that this move has something to do with CSR and sustainability, I suggest they think again. In fact, it seems to me that we have a compensation structure for corporate execs which is based on unsustainable principles and needs a complete overhaul as part of a new sustainable infrastructure for financial institutions. The fact that a few execs will now have no option but to give up a massive 2.5% of their even more massive bonuses is about as useful and desirable as an ashtray on a motorbike. What's worse, it may just dupe these super-execs into thinking that they have done their bit and have become awesome philanthropists, when at the same time,  workers around the world are still struggling to make a living wage.

If this is the New Economy, then we need a Newer one.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices.  Contact me via www.twitter.com/elainecohen  on Twitter or via my website www.b-yond.biz/en

CSR for HR is rather jolly

Another review of CSR for HR, this time by the creative, dynamic and very influential Solitaire Townsend, founder and leader of Futerra Sustainability Communications , a leading light in all things to do with making the concept of sustainability more accessible, intelligible and authentic. Solly is a true powerhouse in this space, and her voice carries much weight, which is why I am honoured to see her review of CSR for HR on the People Management Magazine website.

The review starts off like this:

Elaine Cohen has been a powerful voice in the corporate social responsibility and sustainability movement for many years. Turns out she also has a secret aptitude for fiction.

That could be a rather sarcastic start to a review of her new book, CSR for HR. Except that this is an overt work of fiction, and a rather jolly one at that. We follow the story of Sharon, a fictional HR director who sets out on a journey of CSR discovery. This is a fantastic ploy to entertain the knowledgeable, while filling in the gaps for the new entrants to CSR.
Sharon delves into the definitions of CSR, learns from the real-life achievements of Body Shop, Gap, Nike, Microsoft, Ben and Jerry’s, Google and energy company Vattenfall. The book is stuffed with mini-articles, models, a road map to get started and interviews between Sharon and real leaders in CSR.

and finishes up like this:

Nevertheless, this is a must-read for HR professionals, students and those interested in holistic management. It’s rare to find a business book where you learn as much from the protagonist’s chats with her daughter as from the case studies. Enjoy.

My thanks to Solly for taking the time to read the book and for the wonderful review. Anyone who helps get the message out to the HR community that it is time for HR to wake up to CSR is a VSP (Very Special Person)  and I am highly appreciative. I hope the HR community will be, one day, too!

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices. Contact me via www.twitter.com/elainecohen  on Twitter or via my website www.b-yond.biz/en

Friday, January 7, 2011

The year before CSR for HR

I was honoured to be asked to contribute to the CSR 2010 series put together by Aman Singh, the amazing #CSR power behind Vault.com's CSR blog, In Good Company. I think they should rename it "In Outstanding Company" because Aman has put together an outstanding gathering of CSR writers, practitioners, commentators and thought-leaders to express their perspectives on CSR in 2010 and a view for 2011. Kicking off with an introductory post of her own, entitled "Lasting impressions from a volatile year", Aman then brought us a wonderful range of articles from brilliant minds including :

Julie Urlaub, Founder and Managing Director, Taiga Company
John Kim, Better World Marketing Manager, Herman Miller
Ashley Jablow, 2010 MBA graduate, Boston University
Alice Korngold, CEO, Korngold Consulting
Dr. Mrim Boutla, Co-creator of the More Than Money (MTM) League & Justmeans Writer on Responsible Careers
Andrea Newell, Writer, Triple Pundit
John Friedman, Cofounder, Sustainable Business Network of Washington (SB NOW)
Jeffrey Hollender, Founder & Former CEO, Seventh Generation
Shannon Schuyler, Director for CSR, PwC
Mackenzie Sullivan, Associate Director & Career Coach, Carlson School Graduate Business Career Center
William Paddock, Founder, WAP Sustainability
Namrata Rana, Director, Futurescape
Ruhi Shamim, Social Media Strategist & Blogger

You can find their posts on the Vault.com's blog. They are all fascinating, and some have a CSR-HR theme as well.
My post, number 11 in the series of guest posts, is entitled:
Here is how I started off:
2010 has been a tough year in Human Resources. The effects of the Global Financial Crisis left many corporate headcount gaps, leaving those who remained doing twice as much in half the time for less reward and barely any recognition. It doesn’t really matter what the size of your business or where you are in the world, because the ripple effect has, as we close out the decade, reached just about everyone.

The three biggies on the minds of HR people amidst the turmoil have been development, retention and engagement.

HR managers have grappled with administering layoffs and restructuring businesses, rather than considering the alternatives to the Pavlov response of broad-scale dismissal letters. CSR, in this respect, as in other HR functional areas, remains a concept foreign to most human resources managers and one which they believe interferes with, rather than empowers, their impact on the business.

I end up with a repetition of the mantra you know so well by now and the hope that 2010 was the year before the year that HR wakes up to CSR!

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices. http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com/productdetail.kmod?productid=3282 Contact me via www.twitter.com/elainecohen  on Twitter or via my website www.b-yond.biz/en
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