Social Entrepreneurship

The Role of Human Resource Management in CSR

Written by Charles Mburugu for Gaebler Ventures

Human resource professionals play a major role in helping a business attain its CSR objectives. Employee participation is a crucial success factor for CSR performance. How can your human resource function influence employee engagement in, and commitment to, the firm's CSR strategy?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the objective incorporation of environmental and social considerations into business operations and decisions.

Businesses are increasingly being held accountable for the impact of their actions on society. The following are steps which your human resource function can follow to support incorporation of CSR in business strategy and operations.

Mission, vision, values and CSR strategy

Successful CSR demands a clearly articulated mission, vision, and values which incorporates basics of corporate social responsibility and sustainability. HR practitioners should be able to explain the need for a CSR strategy and demonstrate how it can contribute to the organization's ROI. In conjunction with staff and other stakeholders, your HR function should initiate the creation, or improvement, of an ideal mission, vision and values which explicitly address CSR strategy.

Employee codes of conduct

The HR function is usually responsible for outlining and executing employee codes of conduct. This is a key tool for expression of CSR norms. Your business' employee code of conduct should reflect the business' commitment to environmentally and socially-based decision making.

Workforce planning and recruitment

Workforce planning refers to the comparison of the present workforce to future requirements in order to recognize competency surpluses and gaps. For a CSR oriented business, this involves assessing the need for competencies and skills sets relevant to the sustainable economy. Your HR function should incorporate a CSR perspective into workforce planning and recruitment to ensure attraction and retention of staff aligned with the company's CSR goal and vision.

Training, orientation and competency development

During orientation, employees should receive a detailed overview of the business mission, vision, and core CSR goals and values. To ensure maximum alignment, this orientation should be mandatory for all new employees. New employees should get information about CSR policies, the main CSR issues the business deals with and the key stakeholders. Once hired, employees should be assigned direct or indirect CSR responsibilities.

Performance management and compensation

An incentive and compensation program is an important HR tool. Usually, companies reward their employees based on financial performance. However, to achieve your business CSR objectives, the total reward program should be aligned with the business' CSR strategy and values. It might be necessary to integrate CSR elements into every job description.

Change management

Growing and adjusting to the fluctuating marketplace necessitates major behavioral shifts once in a while. Behavioral change happens as a result of building awareness, role modeling and generating conviction and desire. Your business should be guided by CSR values in team alignment and change management.

Employee involvement and participation

Employees are some of the main stakeholders for the development of a successful CSR strategy. It is important that to understand their key priorities, concerns and perspectives. To attain employee awareness, your business could initiate programs which teach employees and their families about environmental and social concerns at home, work or their communities.

Measurement and reporting

The company HR function is responsible for measuring and reporting both employee CSR participation and general CSR performance. This is usually done in form of a yearly CSR report, which is presented to the board of directors and the public. This report will be a good indicator of the success of your business CSR strategy.

Charles Mburugu writes for us from his home in Nairobi. He has a graduate degree in Business Management from Kenya Institute of Management. He is interested in writing about branding, CSR and intellectual property.

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