Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why HR Managers don't do it

As a follow-up to my post about the World HRD Congress in Mumbai in February, here you can see me in action, at the start of my presentation on CSR for HR:

And while we are on the subject, you might want to take a look (it's ok if you might not!) at this interview I did with Ellen Weinreb, the Sustainability Recruitment Guru and leading light on all matters relating to sustainable jobs.  Her piece is called:   The real friction between human resources and CSR and speaks to the issues that prevent Human Resources from truly embracing CSR as a prism through which they manage the HR function.

What are the top reasons that HR Managers do not embrace CSR ?

  • We are already doing it.
  • No-one is telling us to do it.
  • We don't have the time to do it.
  • We don't get paid to do it.
 Of course, you don't hear too many HR Managers saying:
  • We don't know how to do it.
or even:
  • We are still asleep.

It is time for HR to wake up to CSR!

1. Start where you are
2. Use what you have
3. Do what you can

This is great advice for HR Managers. I would add just one more point : Read 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

Friday, March 9, 2012


For those of you who speak Dutch, you will probably know what MVO VOOR HR means. For those of you who don't, CSR for HR might be more familiar. In just a few weeks, I will be in The Netherlands to deliver two exciting sessions on CSR for HR, organized and hosted by MVO Nederland.

MVO Nederland (CSR Netherlands) is the national knowledge centre and the national network organisation for Corporate Social Responsibility: the place to start for any entrepreneurs wishing to make their commercial operations sustainable. It's the "CSR Magnet" in The Netherlands. One interesting aspect of the MVO network is the Large Companies Network which now numbers 62 Dutch companies with over 500 employees. MVO launched their Education and Training Academy just this year, and have already hosted a range of fabulous speakers including Wayne Visser on CSR 2.0 and Veronika Scheubel on Corporate Community Involvement. I am delighted and honored to be a part of the MVO Academy's program this year.  

My sessions are as follows:

The Masterclass will cover the business case for the CSR-HR partnership and the way managers of both professions can and should work together to deliver sustainable business strategy, with examination of risks, the opportunities and benefits of the CSR-HR partnership. We will relate this to the role of business in society and the platform this creates for CSR -HR collaboration. Then, we will zoom in on a few case studies that demonstrate these benefits, illustrating the shared roles of CSR and HR. Finally, we will discuss the CSR-HR Roadmap, Metrics and Scorecard, and how these fit into a sustainable organization's reporting strategy, with some practical tools to take away for implementation back in the workplace. Of course, culture, values and leadership will be part of this discussion.

3rd April : An Interactive  Masterclass for HR Professionals, in collaboration with the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Personeelsmanagement & Organisatieontwikkeling aka the Dutch Association for Personnel Management and Organization Development, starting at 9:30 am in Utrecht.

In this meeting, we will cover similar ground, this time working through the minds of Human Resources leaders. We will explain why CSR is now the way business gets done, the implications for the HR Profession, the risks and opportunities. We will review case studies that deliver benefit for the business, employees, other internal and external stakeholders and for HR Professionals themselves. In the second part of the session, we will break into groups to discuss some core issues and share experiences, challenges and best practices. We will focus on practical implementation of HR tools and processes, with a CSR mindset.  

Despite the fact that I do now understand what MVO VOOR HR means, both sessions will be conducted in English :) If, however, you want to read a little more in Dutch, you can see this article posted on the MVO website.

I am looking forward to some very stimulating discussion and the opportunity to enjoy the company of  friends in The Netherlands. I hope to see some of you 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

Friday, March 2, 2012

Employee engagement in CSR- it's gone viral!

Wherever you look these days and whatever you read, getting employees on board with sustainability efforts is one of the key areas that everyone seems to be (yawn! at long last) acknowledging is the key to making it all come right. No list of top sustainability trends for 2012 was complete without employee engagement taking a star role. In a world of work where only 31% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs, we can only hope that we are in the range of rock-bottom and that things will get better. Sustainability is not only an outcome of employee engagement, it is a driver. HR Managers around the world, this is your time to wake up to CSR!

James Epstein Reeves' recent post on - Six Reasons Companies Should Embrace CSR - features employee engagement (albeit in sixth place - ahem - but who's counting), saying: "..... if your own employees don’t know what’s going on within your organization, you’re missing an opportunity. Companies like Sara Lee created a cross-functional, global Sustainability Working Team to help create a strategy for sustainability. At a more grass roots level, the Solo Cup Company created the Sustainability Action Network to activate employees in community service focused on the company’s CSR priorities."

Addison's Six Sustainability Trends to Watch in 2012 includes employee engagement in sustainability, saying that "an increasing number of companies are realizing that introducing innovative employee volunteer programs as part of an integrated environmental, social and governance (ESG) platform can enhance their “employment brand.”

Tim Mohin of AMD included employee engagement in his top ten CSR trends of 2012, explaining "The connection between CSR and engaged employees continues to grow. A Hewitt & Associates study looked at 230 workplaces with more than 100,000 employees and found that the more a company actively pursues worthy environmental and social efforts, the more engaged its employees are. The Society for Human Resources Management compared companies that have strong sustainability programs with companies that have poor ones and found that in the former morale was 55% better, business process were 43% more efficient, public image was 43% stronger, and employee loyalty was 38% better."

Susan McPherson, the CSR Dynamo at Fenton, also ranked employee engagement highly in her list of 12 predictions for CSR in 2012. And there are more. How can all these expert professionals be wrong? Of course they can't.

And here is some proof.

Trend 3 in a new report hot-off-the-press-just-published by Ernst and Young in cooperation with Greenbiz Group, creatively entitled "Six Growing trends in Corporate Sustainability" is guess what, employee engagement. Employees are seen as a key audience for Sustainability Reports. The story E&Y tells about this trend goes like this:  "While the tools and techniques for employee engagement vary widely, the benefits are consistently described by these companies. Most importantly, they enhance employee attraction and retention, improve operational efficiencies, strengthen customer relations, increase innovation and strengthen community ties. Moreover, companies that distribute their sustainability reports broadly among employees find that they often share this information with their families, friends and neighbors, as well as with customers and suppliers. Employees can become a powerful voice in support of company sustainability messages."

Powerful stuff, right? Employee engagement in CSR has gone viral!

Who is going to tell 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
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