HR practitioners have a crucial role to play in embedding a responsible approach to business in which employers 'live' company values rather than pay lip service to CSR.
According to Corporate Social Responsibility and HR’s Role, a new report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), effective implementation of HR policies on employee consultation, diversity, fair treatment and work-life balance are fundamental to projecting the image of a responsible employer.
HR departments are responsible for many of the key systems and processes, including recruitment, training and communications, on which effective delivery of CSR initiatives depends.
Mike Emmott, Head of Employee Relations and the report’s author, said that CSR must start with getting the relationship with employees right. Without this, it is unlikely that the organisation will be able to discharge convincingly its obligations to the wider community.
"In our view, CSR minus HR equals PR," he said. "Research evidence shows that employees have relatively high levels of trust in their line manager but very low levels of trust in senior management. HR practices are heavily underpinned by ethical beliefs so good HR is the obvious basis for building trust levels across the organisation and providing a solid foundation for CSR.
"HR can give substance to company aspirations to be - and be seen to be - a good employer by championing policies on diversity, work-life balance, employee involvement and training and development," he continued.
"Successful practices of this kind not only build credibility and trust with customers and employees but have other positive effects such as improved recruitment and retention rates."