Saturday, September 10, 2011

17 DJSI super sector leaders fail at CSR Employer Branding

So many companies claim to have embedded CSR into their core strategies. So many companies issue Sustainability Reports about their sustainability performance. So many students claim that they would like to join a company with a good social responsibility record. So why is the HR function not leveraging this valuable platform in their employer branding and offering to potential new recruits?

This week, the new Dow Jones Sustainability Leaders list was published. The list of Super Sector leaders, the most sustainable companies in the world, according to the DJSI, looks like this:

How many of these companies are exploiting this sustainability-super-sector-leadership in their Employer Brand? Let's take a quick look:

Air France KLM - Working at KLM
While the Air France KLM corporate website does have a section on Corporate Responsibility, a visit to the corporate job site won't inspire your sustainability sensitivities, even though, there too, there is a short summary of why KLM tops the DJSI list every year. "Passion, energy, drive and brainpower are common traits of KLM team members".  Social responsibility, apparently, isn't worth a mention. 

BMW AG Careers website invites you to be part of the success. The focus here is on performance orientation, flexible working hours, family and career and pay and benefits. While the website navigation bar includes CSR, so the prospective candidate searching the careers site may be tempted to have a look, the careers page itself gives no hint that new hires at BMW will be doing anything more fulfilling than selling more cars.

I couldn't find a careers section on the Enagas SA website though you can find a short Human Resources policy, committing the company to fair and decent labor practices, but not necessarily to provide jobs with meaning.

The Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company Ltd also does not have a careers section, through the company has a lot of sustainability messaging on the website. Maybe they are not hiring? Similarly, the Brazilian Itausa-Investimentos Itau S/A does nothing to attract grads other than the presence of a Sustainability Report on the website, while Koninklijke DSM N.V. gets closer to making the company sound attractive to the sustainably minded  grads, asking them:  "Do you see your work in the context of society and the planet at large?"

Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.(or Philips to most of us) doesn't go the extra mile on its careers website, stressing  a diverse choice of ways that grads can use their talents. Is that it?

The Japanese KT Corp has no careers information on their website, nor does the Lotte Shopping Company, but Pearson plc does make the case for "getting excited about job opportunities", though, regrettably, not because of sustainability.

And then we get to Pepsico. Given Indra Nooyi's claims about the attractions of working for a company which puts Performance with Purpose first, you might expect the company's website to be attractive for students interested in sustainability. You would be right.  Why work at Pepsico? Culture, diversty, benefits, development. And what's culture? Performance with Purpose, of course. Pepsico is the first company I come across as I run down the Super Sector leaderboard which aligns its employer branding with its corporate branding and with a sustainability theme. Hurrah!

The people of Pepsico are an inspiring bunch, and all have something to say about both Performance and Purpose.

PostNL NV is the Dutch postal service with over 77,000 employees. Those interested in sustainability apparently didn't get inspired by the PostNL website which does not have a careers section, while Repsol YPF SA does list the ten reasons you might want to work for Repsol and number three (following "worldwide energy company" and working on a "solid business project") is  that Repsol is "committed to society". 

Roche Holding AG on the other hand, has the most compelling sustainability related careers proposition on the company's global careers portal.

This is a clear link between the employer brand and the company's business purpose. It promises a career which is about personal growth AND a contribution to society.

Samsung Electronics careers website runs with the theme of working for a world-class company which is passionate about its people (how original!). Nothing related to sustainability. Stockland in Australia has a careers section on their website. The company lists two days of paid personal volunteering leave as one of the benefits employees can expect to receive though the company values do not relate to sustainability. Swiss Re Ltd, global insurer, also has a website careers section which lists some of the company's do-gooding projects.

Westpac Banking Corp, a company whose approach to CSR and sustainability I have long admired (and featured in my book, CSR for HR), has a surprisingly drab careers section and the "Westpac as an employer" page is about as boring as you can get, with no connection to the corporate sustainability strategy, except for a section about values. The People Policies page starts out with a section entitled "Harassment and Discrimination"  which maybe specifically material in Westpac's business but it's hardly a reflection of how corporate polices advance corporate sustainability strategy.

Finally, Xstrata, a global mining group, tells students why they should choose an Xtrata career. Why? Because you can embrace your entrepreneurial spirit. Sustainability? Who knows?

So there we have it. 19 leaders of the leaders of the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide are barely making the connection between their leadership in sustainability and their potential to attract employees who are interested in working for sustainability-leading companies. Of these 19 companies, 6 (32%) do not have a careers section on their website and only two (10%)  link their Employer Brand in a credible and inspiring way with their sustainability-driven corporate purpose. Well done Pepsico and Roche!

As for the other 17 companies, what a wasted opportunity! Where is the HR function in these companies and why hasn't the HR function woken up to the fact that the corporate website is probably the most relevant and important place to showcase the corporate Employer Brand which should be aligned with the corporate sustainability strategy?  While it's been a  l-o----n-----g  time since I graduated, and things were different back then (people talked security, not opportunity), I feel sure that today, especially if I were graduating from a Green MBA program or similar, that I would be interested in knowing not only whether the company has a sustainability strategy (and learning about it though the corporate Sustainability Report) but also I would like to know what opportunities there would be for ME to contribute to creating a better, more sustainable world. Only Pepsico and Roche make this connection. If I were HR Manager of all the other 17 companies in this list, I would be getting my act together and using the corporate website as my most prominent mouthpiece, in a way which aligns with both sustainability and recruitment needs.

HR Managers, wake up!!! CSR Managers and Chief Sustainability Officers, why are you not insisting that your hard work in driving sustainable practices in your company is not leveraged as a tool to help your company win the war for talent? Employer Branding is a key tool in the arsenal of the CSO to showcase your company's sustainability culture, to appeal to the new pool of sustainability-aware green-minded, human-rights-supporting, social-justice-oriented, exceptionally intelligent young graduates of today. Sustainability is a key differentiator. With the exception of Pepsico and Roche, nothing else sets these DJSI leaders apart from the bunch. And if I read one more careers website that says "we are passionate about people" I will probably have to go drown myself in a vat of ice cream.  

It is time for HR Managers to wake up to CSR. It is time for CSR Managers to wake up to 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

1 comment:

Linda said...

That is an interesting observation! I know myself, who will evetually graduate, how much research I do online before I make my decisions regarding education, work etc.

It's strange since companies are well aware of the great importance of CSR today, and engaging in these matters are good PR for them, one would assume that they would want to show the world every little involvement related to CSR they do. So if I wouldn't be able to find any information regarding this on their website, except that they claim to be a sustainable company etc, I would assume that there is nothing further to find out and I would probably move on to the next company. That's a shame, if that company actually was engaged in CSR issues.

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