As a business model CSR integrates social and environmental concerns with a company’s business operations, including its clients, employees, shareholders, suppliers, and partners. It seeks to increase a company’s economic output whilst simultaneously seeking to promote and address social and environmental issues. Finding the right balance and drive to succeed can be difficult to achieve.
Any organisation can implement a CSR business model, but it can be so much wider than simply developing, manufacturing, and/or promoting an eco-friendly product or fundraising. A well -developed CSR model may seek to tackle both social and environmental issues. For example, educational inequalities can be tackled by helping underperforming schools, stripped of resources, to more effectively assist students with preparing for job applications through CV drafting assistance and interview preparation. Providing an organisation’s employee skill base for free to those most in need, is another example; law firms could offer a pro bono clinic, IT firms can offer repair workshops to those on low incomes.
Environmental eco-friendly policies have been highlighted in recent years and we have highlighted a few of them here. However, HR can encourage businesses to look beyond eco-friendly policies. They can pick eco-friendly pension funds and choose environmentally conscious suppliers.
HR’s involvement in CSR has been highlighted before. In 2013 CIPD noted that HR has a central role to play in CSR. This is because HR professionals are specialists in employment policies and practices. What is key is that they are trained to resolve disputes in a fair and ethical way. They listen to both sides and generally seek solutions agreeable to both parties. They have the skills to balance an organisation’s need for profitability whilst at the same time assisting their organisation to recognise the benefits to people engagement in addressing local social and environmental issues. HR is essential to an organisation’s well-being both financially and at grass root level, being part of management where they can persuade and encourage, whilst having an ear to the ground to understand what employees of those organisations care about and are actually interested in promoting.
The need for organisations to continue with CSR is needed now more than ever. Covid-19 will cause further inequalities. An obvious example is schoolchildren, who do not have the same educational resources at home as they did in the school. This could be even as basic as access to internet and/or a computer. HR professionals can continue to use their skills in promoting CSR; now is not the time to give up.
24th June 2020