Thursday, February 3, 2011

CSHR gaining ground in Italy ?

CSR and HR appear to be converging in Italy, according to research from the CSR Manager Network in Italy, which can be downloaded here, for those of you that speak Italian. The only word I know in Italian is gelati. Ha-Ha. Thank you to James Osborne of Lundquist who posted news of this research on Justmeans, here.

The research, surveying 48 CSR Managers and 41 HR Managers in leading Italian companies,  concludes that : "CSR Manager and HR managers share a strategic approach to sustainability. Sharing an interest in sustainability as a strategic element can be a starting point for closer collaboration between CSR and HR manager."  (sic. Care of Google Translate, reasonably coherent, for a change).

Apparently, 87.5% of CSR Managers and 80.5% of HR Managers consider CSR as strategic for the enterprise. (Only 87.5% of CSR Managers? Sounds like the other 12.5% should be looking for a new job). The research says it is reasonable to expect that HR Managers will seek more active partnerships with CSR Managers to progress sustainability issues. 

The main areas of convergence appear to be recruitment, training, employee wellbeing and aspects of employability. Interestingly, the research shows that collaboration between CSR and HR Manages tends to be on the basis of informal personal relationships rather than a structured organizational process approach. Which is fine as long as everyone gets along. Sort of. Unless processes are formalised into a systematic way of doing things in the business, there can be no guarantee that they will be sustainable or sustained.

A disturbing thing is that both CSR and HR Managers appear to hold the view that CSR is about responsible management of people within the organisation i.e. employees. I take a different view. I believe the new CSHR role, the role of the CSR-minded HR Manager in the development of a CSR-enabled culture adds value because it specifically goes beyond the internal aspects of managing employees responsibly. The CSR-minded HR Manager should be considering external stakeholders as well as internal ones in determining HR policies and practices. Most of what HR does has a massive indirect impact, well beyond the employees that receive paychecks from the business, on families of employees, minority groups, employee representation associations,  local communities, suppliers, professional service providers, municipalities,  environment and more. If all that HR does under the guise of CSR is more training, more employee welfare and more outplacement, then I believe they are missing the point of CSR and will fail to realize the fabulous strategic value that CSHR can add.

Here is the graphic from my book, CSR for HR, that shows the difference between CSHR and HR management. 

HR Managers need to work out how to manage the traditional HR functional roles with a CSR mindset, and also adopt and adapt to the new remits that can be best driven with HR leadership. CSR Managers need to realize the imperative of embedding CSR culture and working with the HR function in order to do that.

Dr Stephen R Covey  (hint: 7 Habits)  said that things are created twice: first in the mind and second in practice. The first is what you think, the second is what you do. I am pleased to see this research that shows what CSR and HR Managers are thinking. This is good. If they are thinking strategic fit, this may be a precursor to both groups actually doing something about it. I am, however, still waiting for a piece of research that shows the "doing" part. How are HR Managers actually doing things differently?  Has HR really woken up to CSR in practice ?

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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