Sunday, April 4, 2010

HR Job Descriptions for CSR

Some of you may know that I am now in the final stages of writing my book to be published later this year by Greenleaf Publishing, on the ways Human Resources Managers need to change what they do and how they do it in order to become more relevant partners in Companies who adopt a strategy and practice of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability. Most HR Managers, I maintain, do not have a CSR mindset, many don't even know what CSR means and why it is relevant to their function. In around 250 packed pages, I have already described this interplay in great detail, with many examples from businesses around the world and some inputs from leading HR professionals in global Companies.  I am now writing the final piece, pulling all the separate analyses of the different HR functional areas together, with a toolkit for what and how to change. One piece of this is a new-style Job Description for the HR (generalist) Manager in a business which assimilates CSR strategy as part of its way of life. I will share my thoughts on how this looks to me, in the hope that any of you out there with a particular interest in HR may respond with insights which will improve my version and which I can use as I finalise the book.

Job Description for an HR Manager in a CSR-minded organisation (draft)

Job Purpose

The HR Manager is responsible for developing and assimilating tools and processes which enhance business and individual capability, in a way which develops a positive and healthy organizational culture, upholds business principles and values, and maintains accountability for the effects of business and individual actions on all stakeholders including society at large and the environment.

Job Objectives
  1. Support the delivery of business strategy, objectives, goals and targets through the effective engagement, deployment and development of people.
  2. Assure the resourcing of the business with appropriately skilled talent, in the right place at the right time to perform the required tasks.
  3. Contribute to the development of a corporate culture which encourages dialogue, support for individuals, openness to new ideas and the ability of each individual in the organization to achieve professional and personal fulfillment.
  4. Assure the understanding of people in the business of the impacts of all their activities on stakeholders, society and environment, and support programmes in which all may contribute to improving these impacts.

Key Areas of Responsibility
  1. HR Strategy: Development and implementation of HR Strategy which is aligned with business objectives and supports business strategy delivery through all professional HR functions in a responsible way.
  2. HR Stakeholder Engagement: Identify all direct and indirect stakeholders of the Human Resources function in the business and engage with them in different ways to ensure complete understanding of their needs and aspirations, and ensure responsiveness to theses needs.
  3. Personnel Planning and Resourcing: Analyse the long-range resourcing needs of the business in the context of changing market and business dynamics, and manage processes to ensure that people with the right skills are available as needed to perform tasks as required.
  4. Organizational culture: Promote the development of an ethical, inclusive and diverse organizational culture based on respect and values, in which all are able to contribute in a context of open information and dialogue, acceptance of continual change and focus on professional leadership and personal accountability.
  5. HR Functional Contribution: Develop, deliver, monitor and measure processes and tools to ensure effective attraction, recruitment and retention, training and development, remuneration and reward, performance management, and employee relations in the business, in line with the principles and practices of social and environmental responsibility.
  6. Internal Communications: Ensure a high, dynamic and interactive level of internal communications in which all employees are engaged and can feel part of the business community.
  7. Sustainability: Ensure the HR function is aligned with the business's sustainability strategy by providing sustainability awareness training for all employees, and developing HR programmes which support Sustainability strategy, which may include community involvement and volunteering programmes and environmental activities undertaken by employees, amongst others.
Key Measures of Job Outputs
  1. Employee Satisfaction and Inclusion
  2. Employee Diversity
  3. Stakeholder Satisfaction with the HR Function contribution
  4. Adherence to Ethics and Values by employees
  5. Attraction, Recruitment and Deployment Effectiveness
  6. Employee Health and Safety and Well-Being
  7. Employee Retention and Turnover Rate
  8. Individual Skill Development (training)
  9. Performance Review Implementation
  10. Employee Engagement in Internal Communications
  11. Employee Volunteers and Hours Volunteered in the community
  12. Employee contribution to reduction of the business's Environmental Footprint
Key Knowledge, Skills and Competencies required to meet the job requirements

Knowledge and Skills :
• Business strategy, processes, performance drivers, risks and opportunities
• Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility principles and practices
• Business and sustainability issues in the wider societal context
• HR Strategy Development
• Stakeholder Engagement and Dialogue Processes
• HR Functional development and implementation expertise in all HR sub-functions
• Human Rights, Labor Codes, Health, Safety and Well-being frameworks
• Communication tools including advance application of social media internally and externally

Competencies :
• Leadership, clarity of purpose, long-term thinking and visioning skills
• Ability to challenge the system using an inquiring mind and analytical skills
• Listening, Mediating, Integrating and Influencing skills
• Commitment to help people grow and develop (in alignment with business needs), and a passion for business with social and environmental responsibility
• Outstanding proliferate communicator via diverse channels
• High degree of integrity, personal ethics and commitment to social justice
• Optimism and a sense of humor

(NB: I did not add Chunky Monkey addict as a key competency, though, of course that helps).

Any of you CSR Leaders or HR Professionals out there with a view on the above ?

elaine cohen is the CEO of Beyond Business, a leading social and environmental consulting and reporting fitm. Visit our website at


Mark Peach said...

Hi Elaine

Very interesting. From a South African perspective, HR Managers who are serious about implementing black economic empowerment (and are therefore seriously responsible) will have many of your points as part of their current practice - the key in this country is to contribute to social redress and stability. More than 50% of South African live in poverty; we have an unemployment rate in excess of 30%; and an economy struggling to sustain growth at all. There are any number of imbalances as well, for instance a massive skills shortage that directly and indirectly the haves over the hane nots, and the legislative requirement to find non-existent skills to show increasingly diverse workforces. From the corporate perspective therefore, HR Managers are very preoccupied (theoretically at least) with carrying out many of the requirements and tasks you mention.
Sadly, there isn't much energy behind empwoerment these days as it has disintegrated into a bit of a farce. What this means of course, again from a local perspective, is that there is a great deal of theory and posturing but a lack of earnest implementation of the practices that make local businesses sustainable and responsible. Most of this derives from the local political landscape and where local business is in terms of CSR and sustainability.
The key therefore to making the work of the HR Manager matter, in the ways you have described it, is f0or there to be wholesale support from executive management. How one obtains that is perhaps something that should find its way into your book if it isn't there already.

Best regards

elaine said...

hello Mark, thank you for reading and commenting. What a fantastic insight you bring from South Africa. I was not aware of the extent of such challenges for businesses and HR Managers in SA.
I fully agree with you that business success is heavily dependent upon top leadership commitment and support. Most examples of excellence in any business stem from this. My book does address the challenges the HR function faces when the top leadership is not engaged in sustainability practices, but my main message is that HR Managers, as professionals, need to embrace sustainability even if this is not a directive from above. There are many things HR Managers can do in an organization in the spirit of CSR within their own functional jurisdiction, and not being told to do it is ahould not be an excuse for inaction and ignorance on the part of the HR Function. The world is changing, and HR can be a part of this whether or not it is written into their job description. Personal leadership by the HR function can help maintain pressure on the executive team, and create value for the business, people, society and environment in doing so. I suspect that even in SA, proactive HR Managers who do not sit around waiting for a nod from the CEO or a convenient political climate can make a difference. However, as you point out, the best results for the whole business will come if executive leadership is engaged and suppportive. Thanks again.
Warm regards, elaine

PeckoPivo said...

Very cool and useful (not that I expected less ;), but I would just not go that deep into defining what kind of organizational culture shall this manager promote, no matter how wide you make it.

Working on the issue for a couple of years already, I learned that the only right way for the organization to create an ideal organizational culture is to ask its people what kind they want and act upon it. This is actually the key to sustainability, much better retention rate (especially among the talents and high performers), as well as satisfaction and inclusion.
Therefore, managers role is to ensure that the company continuously pays attention to this issue and that it does it in a transparent and inclusive way.


Cathy Joseph said...

Hi Elaine -

This is terrific! I especially love the Job Purpose – it sets a perfect framework!!

My HR experience has been on the specialist side, working in all areas that touch talent management. One of my key areas of interest is employee development and I would welcome seeing it given more than the current mention in "HR Functional Contribution." I have not yet spoken with an organization that is doing this (and hope to read about them in your book!), but I'd like to suggest that HR identify the critical CSR/Sustainability competencies for their organization and integrate them with other organizational and role-based competencies being used. One competency that I believe will span all organizations is systems thinking. It is critical that we look at each organization and its stakeholders holistically to understand how everything interconnects – a key to building true business sustainability.

As a side note, I’d like to see organizations build development opportunities around their employee volunteer initiatives. When those volunteer initiatives become strategic to the business, then a powerful model is created that unleashes innovation and, ultimately, builds that organization. I have found precious few examples of this and hope to read more in your book!

Thanks so much for this and for all that you offer to this community!!


Unknown said...

Elaine, you may want to read these pages thoroughly for more thought on this.

It is an extensive thought form that has strong implications for HR and corporate society.


These pages were defined based on a number of future scenarios with an idea to bring into an organization a person responsible for knowledge and learning practices who would facilitate what we now define as HR discussions integrated into leadership and strategy activities.

There is a VP Of CSR that I am profiling currently with another person, who shares a very unorthodox view of CSR that is aligned with my perspective and thought leadership. I will write up something at my blog in the next day or so.

I think in the world of CSR now as I see it and many others, that include you, we may want to rethink leadership and how it integrates activity into a HR strategy and then rethink the HR task. I see too many technologies now available to do the tracking of benefits and hr functions in organizations.

I don't see enough at the leadership and strategy level with defining programs, metrics and activities that can assure a culture that is CSR responsive through people.

HR in my opinion has needed a new brand and identity and maybe name for a long time and I would love to see this position align with the thought leadership of human capital, learning and value.

Happy belated Passover to you.

I made a luscious pound cake yesterday with lots of whipped cream and fresh strawberries and it was so good, I may have replaced my addiction to ice cream.

Hag Sameach and Namaste to all others here:

elaine said...

Nikola, Cathy and Lavinia, thanks for reading and for your comments....

Nikola, I agree that getting the input of the people is key.

Cathy, both of the points you make are covered in my book :)

Lavinia, HR today should not be transactional (which can be largely automated) but transformational. When I refer to the HR function, I am referring to leadership of culture and capacity building.

regards to all, elaine

Unknown said...

Elaine interesting insight and remark.

Happy Spring.


Related Posts with Thumbnails