Employees’ interest in social and environmental impact of the company they are working for, is on the rise. They demand a work with purpose and one that they enjoy. These are the reasons HR plays a key role in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It is the HR department that can be the right middleman who allows for CSR to become a truly strategic company-wide matter applied in all day-to-day business activities.
Employees are key to successful implementation
The Human Resources department can become a key driver for CSR and shape how the changes in business activities and values are implemented and accepted. It is vitally important to let employees be part of the planning and implementation process of the CSR strategy. Being given tasks and space for their opinions, employees feel their role in building CSR is important and their activity is valued. Often, they come up with interesting ideas and feedback. And most importantly, they become more effective sustainability ambassadors in their business meetings with partners, clients or suppliers.
Employees need to know about the development and progress of CSR in their company and whether it is successful. Non-financial reports may serve well for this as well as personal meetings with employees. It is much easier to incorporate it into the company culture, if employees see evidence that their activity in CSR agenda is meaningful and their abilities are improved.
HR plays a key role in creating and setting up all suitable job positions responsible for performance in sustainability that manage business sustainability activities towards constant improvement. Getting this right and choosing the right candidates means half of the success.
It is vital that all the employees are being treated equally, that they can all equally express their opinions and that they are listened to. HR functions as a middleman and as someone who brings opinions together. It is this department that can create space and mechanisms able to join diverse opinions and abilities together in one platform and use it to bring sustainability into the company system and its activities.
HR should remember to include sustainability strategy in all the company presentations while recruiting new employees and explain the importance it plays in the company identity. It should also keep developing CSR further with all employees and conduct regular sustainability training.
ČEZ: ČEZ takes all its initiative to engage its employees into the CSR activities. They work to bring generations together by organizing regular meetings of employees with seniors who used to work for ČEZ. In the retirement club the former employees have the chance to spend their free time actively as well as to keep in touch with their work fields. ČEZ Group and their employees help hospices, retirement homes and create activation projects for seniors.
AT&T: They established a creative program “Do One Thing”, which encourages their employees to make a project of an activity leading to at least one small change that will help themselves or the whole organization to be more sustainable. Some decided to walk or cycle to work. Others invited students to join so called shadowing of their job positions and to have the chance to see their day-to-day work. The result was a reduction of the company carbon footprint and improved connection with local communities.
Toshiba Corporation: CSR communication is important for employees. Companies can work with PR, non-financial reporting, regular personal meetings between management and employees and with clear interest in improving working environment. Since 2006 every December Toshiba Corporation organizes events that highlight their CSR commitments, introduce the successful projects of the year and encourage employees to take part in voluntary activities.
Employees can significantly influence whether the sustainability culture becomes a natural part of the organization. Therefore, it is clear that HR professionals should actively manage sustainability implementation across the company and motivate employees into their engagement.
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