Our respected Chairman Bill Huxley has recently been active on LinkedIn, our more eagle-eyed or well-connected readers may have noticed. His most recent post was a nudge or even a mild rebuke to HR departments to sign up to a sustainability agenda in the business they work in, as the research he highlighted shows that ethical companies are often more profitable. Indeed they are: better use of resources, employee retention, customer preference and loyalty all contribute positively to the bottom line.
But as an HR professional, and one sometimes frustrated at the lack of an HR presence on boards of directors, I would say this. To be effective, Corporate Responsibility or Corporate Social Responsibility (terms apparently so close as to be interchangeable) is a responsibility that needs to be shared across the organisation. In fact, it is more of a mind-set, to be adopted by everyone working in or with the organisation, or coming into contact with it. Its principle pillars include:
- Ethical financial behaviour: paying taxes (corporation, VAT etc), paying employees correctly, keeping an eye on CEO-to-average-worker-pay ratio
- Dealing only with ethical financial institutions (ones which invest ethically/sustainably, pay their taxes, reward their employees correctly – living wage at one end of the scale/ending excessive bonuses/share options at the other/ending golden hellos & goodbyes)
- Treating employees/potential and ex-employees properly, in terms of non-discrimination and equality of opportunity, going beyond bare legal compliance.
- Becoming an employer of choice, thus cutting down on recruitment and training costs, and creating ambassadors for the organisation.
- Extending the same consideration to suppliers as to employees, choosing ethical ones where possible; fair trade policy.
- Careful use of resources, whether that be ethical sourcing eg renewables/ recycled material; energy use.
- A genuine concern for and interest in the community it operates in, such as supporting local charities – fine examples set here by all of us who support BAP!
This way of doing business is not new, but in the wake of difficult economic circumstances, financial sharp practice, seeking profit above all else (or good old-fashioned greed), it could do with a relaunch! HR has a huge part to play in all this and Oblensky HR is intending to step up to the mark.
Charlotte Obolensky – www.obolenskyhr.com