The Outside Looking In: Human Resources
Part 1: Oftentimes, Corporate Social Responsibiliy initiatives fall under the guise of HR Directorship. This alignment is typically a good clue is concerned about employee development and engagement: that the organization values its employees as assets, and they see CSR activities as a way to do each of the above. Through most of my daily conversations on this topic, it's in this area that I see the greatest momentum. Not only because what we've intuitively known this to be important o Millenials, but also because it’s becoming clear that CSR is also increasingly important to attracting and retaining talent of all ages. Corporate Social Responsibility gives companies a competitive edge.
A study by MIT’s Sloan School of Management found one reason people stay with a company is because they see the company’s values as an extension of their own. And the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2014 study included Corporate Social Responsibility as one of its top key strategies. There is a clear, compelling, and increasingly understood business case for these programs.
What to watch out for? The counter point to housing CSR initiatives within HR is the concern that if people feel there’s an expectation to participate, organizations may inadvertently diminish an employee’s goodwill to participate. This is a I valid concern, but should not be a deal breaker on such programs. To address this, ensure that your employees have a voice in selecting which organizations are supported, and use giving programs as a way to enhance, meaningful work, not the only way to create it.
Need an example of this done right? Check out Microsoft's corporate citizenship report.
What I particularly love about Microsoft’s approach to Corporate Responsibility is that it is truly cross-functional. Its scope includes ethics and compliance, human rights and community impact, employee development and sustainability. At first glade, this seems like a very broad swath of programs and normally I’d be wary that this could be an unfocused approach. However, after further review, you can see that the collaborative approach to integrating across the organization, as well as the way they utilize process and measurement to determine and implement programs allow them to make more progress than typically seen.
That, and of course that key item: commitment.