Saturday, January 7, 2012

Keeping up with CSR for HR

So much is happening in CSR for HR these days. This post is to help you (and me) keep up.

First, two forthcoming events on different sides of the world which I am immensely looking forward to:

7th February in London: The CIPD, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Europe's largest HR and development professional body, is hosting a conference on CR for HR Professionals. I don't recall seeing a dedicated conference on this subject ever, so this is a very welcome development. The conference opens with the brilliant Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director of Forum for the Future, who will talk about the business case for sustainability and then an impressive array of Sustainability and HR Professionals from IBM, KPMG, Prudential, Aviva, Nationwide and more, will lead presentations and discussions on employee engagement, employer branding, aligning CR and business strategies and communication of CSR to employees, and other fascinating CSR-HR topics. I am looking forward to attending, and also holding a raffle for 5 free signed copies of CSR for HR during the course of the day.

16-18th February in Mumbai, India: The 20th Anniversary event of the World HRD Congress will take place in Mumbai at the Taj Lands' End Hotel. It's been over 10 years since I visited Mumbai, so I am especially pleased to be returning to address this congress. My session, entitled: "Sustainable HRM: A strategic imperative" will be from 11:15 - 12:00 on 17th February. I am looking forward to hearing perspectives on CSR/HR Management from many local professionals and am honored to join an impressive list of speakers from all over the globe.

And another event which I unfortunately cannot attend but which is worth noticing. It has been put together by a friend and colleague who contributed to my book, CSR for HR, Cathy Joseph. It is in New York next week, January 10th at 5:30pm and is all about Organizational Development and the Sustainable Business, and features great speakers. I would be there if I could!

In the meantime, even the Carbon Trust has published a tool to help empower employees reduce carbon emissions in the office.  After registering on the website, you can launch the Empower tool, explore your office, take a trip to the bathroom, kitchen or server room, all the while checking out opportunities to save on lighting, water, packaging waste, use stairs instead of elevators, bicycles instead of cars, unplug your mobile phone chargers and more, as your responses to intended behavioral change clock up kg of carbon emissions saved and new policies to suggest to your manager. It's rather simplistic, but any HR Manager intent on having employees understand where they can make a basic difference, could incorporate this into broader environmental training, if supported by policy and some form of measurement of achievement. I already saved 547 kg of carbon in half a dozen pledges to do things differently. Oops, but that's just on the computer screen. Let's see what happens on Monday morning.
Also, a couple of very interesting publications you might have missed:
Towards Employee Engagement 2.0: A report by and the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), the third report on this subject produced by NEEF’s Business & Environment Program, examining how leading companies are moving toward a more strategic approach to employee engagement in corporate sustainability activities by creating a culture of sustainability throughout their firms. This one has examples from Baxter, JC Penney, Stonyfield Farm and Walmart and more and is a useful and interesting read.
Brighter Planet's Greening the Workplace Survey 2011: A total of 972 individuals from 51 countries and 47 US states completed the survey. Key conclusions:
  • Organizations are increasingly engaging employees on sustainability. More than half now promote sustainability frequently or very frequently.
  • Although engagement efforts are spreading, their effectiveness has dropped. The most successful organizations have official policies with upper-level leadership.
  • The role of investor pressure and corporate accountability as a driver of sustainability strategies increased dramatically—it was a factor at 23% of organizations, up from 13% in 2009. Sales and marketing, while the foremost motivator, was unchanged at 30%.
  • The most effective programs promote sustainability in emerging areas like business travel, purchasing, water use, and food at much higher rates than their ineffective counterparts. That said, the most common areas of sustainability engagement are still waste and recycling, energy use, and commuting.
  • Organizations with a method for employees to share ideas were more than six times as likely to have a very effective program. 41% of employers support these communication channels.
  • Organizations that collected data on their footprint, the impact of staff travel and commuting, and employee sustainability efforts were roughly three times as likely to have a very effective program. The number of employers collecting these data increased 15% since 2009, to three in ten.
HR Managers need to think about these findings. What processes to HR Managers need to put in place to support environmental practices? Helping employees share ideas and collecting data (highlighted in red above) seem to have big multiplier effects. Makes absolute sense to me.

So, while all this is positive, I don't quite think it is time yet to abandon my mantra:  "It is time for HR to wake up to CSR".  More HR Managers need to get engaged and make use of all these fabulous opportunities to drive improved sustainability through leverage of core HR tools and new processes. Here's looking forward to a great 2012 in which more HR Managers take the bait.


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

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