Friday, April 29, 2011

Pioneering CSR for HR

Following my post about CSR for HR in Ukraine, I can now report back after having returned from a wonderful visit to a lovely country, a fabulous city and a hub of activity in CSR in general and CSR for HR in particular. The Center for CSR Development in Kyiv, Ukraine, led by the energetic and inspiring Maryna Saprykina has been leading a CSR for HR laboratory with sponsorship from Japan Tobacco International and participation of a range of leading companies in Ukraine. This has been a breakthrough process and the event in Kyiv yesterday was the culmination of  a year of work, which also included the publication of a survey of CSR for HR practices in Ukraine. At the conference, a guide for CSR and HR Managers on how to implement CSR for HR in an organization was launched. At present, the guide is only available in Russian, but I am informed that an English version will be published within a month or so. I am really looking forward to seeing it, as it promises to be a highly practical and useful tool for embedding a CSR-mindset and practices in business.

Maryna (second from left) and conference panelists holding the new CSR for HR guide

I was honored and privileged to be able to speak at the conference organized by the CSR Centre. But not before I had done a little sightseeing. Kyiv is renowned for the largest number of churches in any East European city and is often known as the Jerusalem of Eastern Europe. I was able to get a look at two of them - the Cathedral of Saint Sophia (two pics below) which was built after two decades of effort by Prince Yaroslav the Wise in 1037, and the Cathedral of St Michael (third pic, in the distance) which was destroyed in 1934 and completely reconstructed in 2000 and is the second largest cathedral in the city.

Anyway, back to CSR (which I discovered is KOC in Russian), the conference opened up with a panel of four speakers from companies who had participated in the development of the CSR for HR guide. These were:

Alexandr Rudnitsky, HR Director of JTI Ukraine
Denis Brodakiy , HR Director of the Platinum Bank
Ruslan Skyba, Head of Corporate Affairs, Vanco Prykerchenska Ltd
Marina Zaharina, HR Manager at Ernst and Young, Ukraine

Thanks to my outstanding interpreter, Mikhael, I was able to follow their discussion on the importance of CSR in HR practices and on the value of collaboration between the CSR and HR functions in any company.  One comment was made that many companies have values posted on the wall but you need to ensure that they are not just part of the wallpaper! How true. The collaboration between CSR and HR is what it takes to make these values come alive. The panel spent some time discussing metrics, what and how. This is always one of the most difficult areas of the HR function, though there are many aspects of CSHR which can be measured effectively, both in terms of results and in terms of business outcomes. In my presentation, I offered a Sustainable Human Resources Management scorecard which covers a set of basic CSHR metrics which all CSR-HR Managers should, with a little effort, be able to track. In doing so, the HR function creates a CSR-HR Management tool, benchmarking baseline and also, a strong platform for driving transformational change within the business. This is what the Sustainable HRM Scorecard might look like (it's not comprehensive but it's a good start)
You probably won't be able to read this, so I have posted my entire presentation to Slideshare here.

I couldn't have hoped to have more hospitable hosts - many thanks indeed to Maryna Saprynkina and to JTI.  More importantly, I couldn't have hoped to see a better example of inspired, pioneering work in advancing CSR for HR.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability 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

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Vital CSR news for HR Managers

Just had to repost this from Employer Branding Today -  vital news for all Human Resources Managers.

76% of employees look for employer reputation and image in considering which company to join.

The Global Reputation Pulse 2010 shows that over 40% of reputation comes from factors related to citizenship, governance and workplace. That's a powerful piece of information for HR Managers. Whichever way you look at it, CSR is an important factor in attracting the right people to organizations.

And another piece of research coming out of France, by Universum, shows that the vast majority of over 25,000 students polled students are partially or strongly affected by CSR in their choice of employer.

What could provide greater legitimacy to the call to HR Managers to wake up to CSR!

Credit for the jpgs and the information to Employer Branding Today from Universum. Gonna start reading that regularly from here on in!

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

CSR for HR in the Top 40 Sustainability Books of 2010

I was surprised and pleased and even a little proud to when Greenleaf Publications blog post plopped in my inbox a couple of days ago announcing that seven Greenleaf titles had made it to the The University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainable Leadership List of the Top 40 Sustainability Books for 2010. 

CSR for HR was ranked number 8 on the list  (eight from the TOP, not eight from the bottom ;) ). The Top 40 list contains works by some of the most influential and high-calibre through leaders in sustainability today and it is a privilege and an honor for my work to have been selected as one of these.

I like to keep up with CSR and sustainability books as those of you who know my CSR-books blog may be aware. So, after my delight at CSR for HR being selected, I was just a little irked that I had not managed to keep up with all the other wonderful books that had been listed.

Of the winners, I have read and reviewed 6 out of the 40:

Accounting for Sustainability by Hopwood, Unerman and Fries

Corporate Community Involvement by Lakin and Scheubel

Sustainability in Austerity by Monaghan

The New Rules of Green Marketing by Ottmann

Innovative CSR by Lelouche, Idowu and Filho

The World Guide to CSR by Visser and Tolhurst

Anyway, I am still very pleased that CSR for HR has made it to the list, as the only book (ever published, I believe) that has a practitioner focus on embedding CSR through the Human Resources function. Having the University of Cambridge spread the word that It is time for HR to wake up to CSR! will certainly help get the message through!

A big thanks to Dr Wayne Wisser  and the distinguished Cambridge Programme's team of Senior Associates for publishing this list and including CSR for HR. And, of course to John Stuart and his team at Greenleaf Publishing for their wonderful support to a novice writer such as myself.

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

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Recruiting with purpose

I was just taking a look at the magnificent Indra Nooyi, Pepsic CEO, always but always worth listening to, on video at the CECP’s annual Board of Boards CEO Conference which took place in February earlier this year. In this video highlight, Indra Nooyi talks about what it means to be a responsible company. When asked how Pepsico's sustainability agenda assists recruitment, this is what she said:

"It is the most important and exciting factor. It's unbelievable. Sometimes people are sitting on the fence, a highly regarded person, and they agree to come to us for one reason. They say "we want to be part of the Performance with Purpose agenda" and that's been the single biggest recruiting tool we have in Pepsico today. "

Catch the vid below >>

What a compelling argument for HR to wake 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  on Twitter or via my website

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ukraine leads in CSR for HR

Ukraine does not feature in Wayne Vissers's book World Guide to CSR nor does it feature in a Global Overview of CSR published by BITC in 2010. Yet the Ukraine cannot be discounted when it comes to CSR and Sustainability. This not-so-small country, which used to be the second largest economy in the former Soviet Union, has a population of over 48 million,  a strategic central-eastern Europe location and a GDP per capita of over $6,600. Ukraine produces nearly all types of transportation vehicles and spacecraft, has a very large heavy-industry base and is one of the largest refiners of metallurgical products in Eastern Europe. The IT sector is also growing strongly. Many multinational compaies operate in Ukraine as well as many large local players.

Ukraine has a vibrant and growing CSR community which includes a strong UN Global Compact Network with over 150 members and the CSR Ukraine Community, a social enterprise established in 2008 to promote and advance corporate social responsibility in Ukraine. A quick look at the CSR Ukraine Bulletin or the Centre for CSR Development shows a wealth of activity designed to assess the status of and advance sustainable business practices, not least due to the energy and drive of its leader, Maryna Saprynka, a national Ukraine CSR expert. Non-financial reporting in the Ukraine is also moving forward and the research report published in 2010 by the Ukraine UNGC Network on non-financial reporting shows  55 reports of all types have been published by 38 companies, although only 10% of the top 100 companies engage in non-financial reporting.  The Centre for CSR Development has also published an analytical report on CSR development in Ukraine 2005-2010 based on a survey among 600 Ukrainian companies.

Anyhow, it is not by chance that I have a new fascination with Ukraine and sustainability. I will be visiting for the first time at the end of this month, to speak at a workshop on CSR for HR, hosted by the Centre for CSR Development and JT International Company Ukraine (JTI). The workshop is entitled "How to increase CSR effectiveness: HR role" and will present the results of a unique and very forward-thinking study published after many  months of work in the framework of a laboratory for understanding and defining CSR and HR issues and specifically surveying and interviewing 18 companies' HR, CSR or PR representatives. At the workshop, I will talk about aspects of CSR for HR.

If any of you just happen to be around in Kyiv on 28th April, this promises to be a fascinating few hours. You can register here.
See ya there !

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

Advancing Sustainability: HR's Role

"Advancing Sustainability: HR's Role" is the title of a new report just published by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM),the world’s largest association devoted to human resources management, representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, together with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), a member organization whose purpose is to develop sustainable business strategies and solutions and Aurosoorya, an organization that assists people and organizations to link to patterns that matter to develop deep change. This is an impressive 108 page report, which summarizes data from a survey of 728 HR professionals employed by organizations operating in the United States. The report baselines the role that human resources is currently perceived to play in the corporate sustainability realm and is one of the few comprehensive surveys that have been published on this subject.

A key conclusion from the survey is that the top five positive outcomes from sustainability initiatives are perceived to be: 1) improved employee morale, 2) more efficient business processes, 3) stronger public image, 4) increased employee loyalty, and 5) increased brand recognition. An interesting piece of data is that nearly four out of ten businesses (39%) reported calculating an ROI for their sustainability efforts. Among organizations calculating an ROI, 47% calculated a positive return on their investment, 46% reported it was still too early to determine their ROI, 6% calculated a break-even point and, most noteworthy, no organizations calculated a negative ROI.

The report also makes an assessment of where companies are on their sustainability journey using a model called The Sustainability Maturity Model which moves from compliance, through integration to transformation. Any guesses as to how many have reached the nirvana-like state of transformation? Yep, you were right. 7%. The good news, if you believe it, is that 45% say they are integrating sustainability into the everyday operations of the business. These tend to be larger businesses, while those lagging at the compliance phase tend to be SME's.

Why don't companies do more?
The top five obstacles reported were: 1) costs of launching, 2) difficulty in measuring the return on investment, 3) lack of support from organization’s leaders, 4) costs of maintaining, and 5) lack of internal capacity or knowledge. Interesting that respondents did not include lack of HR motivation to think outside of the traditional HR box as one of the key barriers. If the HR Manager were sustainability-enabled, the top five obstacles would disappear instantaneously.

Who decides sustainability strategy?
Interestingly, when asked who determines sustainability strategy, the top responses were the senior management team (36%) or the CEO (22%) with the HR Department being down the list at 6%. However, when asked who implements sustainability strategy,  the senior management team came in tops again with 51% and the HR Department came in second with 25% of the responses. The Advancing Sustainability report calls this a "disconnect" : "The results from this survey revealed somewhat of a disconnect between HR’s involvement in creating and implementing the sustainability strategy in their organizations."

The report includes several essays with insights from several experts and case studies from SAP, Gap Inc, Alcatel-Lucent, Hitachi, Interface, Nestle and Pfizer as well as spotlights on China and India.

The bottom line?
"This research finds that the human resource function is one of the key groups responsible for implementing a sustainability strategy in organizations. This is not surprising since sustainability is a people issue that is important in shaping the organization’s behavior and culture. It is for these and other reasons that the HR profession is and will continue to be an important component in the emergence and evolution of sustainability."

That's good news, right?  This research presents an interesting reflection of what happens now, in the minds of a large group of HR Managers. Many of them state they have a responsibility to implement sustainability strategy but few say they have input to that strategy. I believe this is not such good news. It is not enough to be satisfied with HR as doers (implementers of strategy) and not as thinkers (co-creators of strategy). People policies should not be regarded as something you think about after you decide business strategy. Human Resources Managers should be full and equal partners in creating business (=sustainability)  strategy and often shaping it to meet the needs of an external reality. It goes like this:

Determine the business opportunity
Agree the strategy.
Implement the strategy.

Let's say the business opportunity is to develop a new product line marketed to women. The business strategy necessarily requires rethinking how the culture of the organization enables, empowers and advances women in the business, as women will have insights which are important to any plan to market to women (leaving aside for a second all the other compelling arguments in favour of a gender-equal workplace). The strategy, then, needs a broad range of HR input, and not just a go-and-recruit-some-women directive. Equally, the implementation of this strategy has to be a partnership between HR and other functions, and not simple an HR "initiative".

Let's say the business opportunity is to become a carbon neutral company. The business strategy necessarily requires thinking about how to engage employees in greenification of the business, which is more than just turning off the office lights at the end of the day and virtualizing data servers, but a comprehensively embedded culture of engagement with sustainability objectives. As it is stated in the report, "As organizations seek to reduce their carbon footprint, it will force HR professionals to completely rethink how work takes place." If this is not strategic, what is ? Shaping the way the company goes about this needs to be linked to culture and capability and a host of creative solutions. The business strategy therefore requires HR input. The implementation requires a partnership between HR and other functions in the business.

Scott S. Criqu, HR manager of Trinity In-Home Care, gets it right, in my view, when he is quoted in the report as saying: “From my experience, the disconnect stems from HR’s inability to form strategic partnerships within their companies. HR departments and executives are seen by other top executives as a tool and not a resource for strategic planning." I believe he is correct and that CSR for HR is a two-way street. Just as executives, including the Chief Sustainability Officer, if there is one, must invite HR to sit at the strategy table, so HR must demand to be there (and prove its worthiness for being there).

And here we get back to the chicken.. or is it the egg.... who goes first?
Should HR wait to be dragged into sustainability, alive (just about) and kicking? Or should HR be proactive in exploiting the massive opportunity that sustainability brings to develop a new position of influence for HR in the business? There is so much that HR can do without waiting to be asked. It takes enlightened, aware, motivated and very confident HR Managers to follow this course. But first, HR has to wake up to what sustainability is all about and what it means for the transformation of the HR function was well as the business, society and the environment.

The "Advancing Sustainability: HR's Role" report is a very important contribution to understanding what is holding so many companies back from reaching sustainability transformation. It provides many insights and examples, some encouraging, of how sustainability is currently perceived and what HR can and should do to make a more tangible difference. This report is indeed a baseline, because what it reflects is a limited activity and marginal strategic leadership. The only thing that this report left out was the fact that HR change for sustainability is URGENT! My mantra: It is time for HR to wake 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  on Twitter or via my website

Thursday, April 14, 2011

CSR for HR - reviewed in German

My German is a little rusty, but I can just about make out the gist of this review of CSR for HR which appeared in the informative German professional journal Human Resources Manager, which is, for those of you who understand a little of the lingo:

die offizielle Publikation vom Bundesverband der Personalmanager (BPM) und vermittelt auf 110 Seiten aktuelle Informationen rund um zentrale Themen des Personalmanagements wie Führungskräfte- und Personalentwicklung, Arbeitsrecht, Employer Branding, Rekrutierung, Mitarbeiterführung und in­ter­natio­nales HR-Management.

Here is the review that appeared in the hard copy of the magazine:

Anyway, what I have managed to understand from this article, is that Personalmanagement ist eine der Schlüsselfunktionen in der Gesellschaftsverantwortung von Unternehmen. which roughly translated means HRM is a key function in CSR. Sure takes longer to say it in German!  I also managed to get that a Weckruf is a wake-up call (as in "HR Managers, Wake up!!! It's time to embed CSR!"). The review finishes with the words: Ein ungewöhnliches Buch – aber dennoch lesenswert. Which I think means... "this is rather an unusual book, but still worth reading".  I wonder if the reviewer meant unusual = highly creative or unusual = totally weird. Being an eternal optimist, I will assume the former ha-ha.  

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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