Elaine Cohen, who spent 20 years in leadership positions at Procter & Gamble and Unilever, says the time is past due for HR leaders everywhere to start showing some leadership on corporate social responsibility. Rather than trying to make their companies better corporate citizens, she writes, HR has spent the past two years focused instead on carrying out layoffs and restructurings to cope with the downturn.
What does CSR actually mean when it comes to HR? According to Cohen, it can mean creating a sustainable workplace by getting employees actively engaged in efforts to reduce the organization’s carbon footprint. Too often, Cohen writes, HR is either a bystander or an impediment to such efforts. Sustainability is rarely, if ever, part of the management-development curriculum at most companies, and far too few companies emphasize the topic in their recruiting materials.
Companies that want to be winners, not losers, in the arena of employee development, retention and engagement will want to focus on sustainability, equal rights in the workplace and employee well-being in 2011, Cohen writes. Sustainability is definitely a draw for Gen Y employees, as this HRE cover story noted.
CSR in the workplace will go nowhere if the person at the top isn’t convinced, of course. But that doesn’t mean HR can’t at least try.