Monday, July 6, 2020

CSR for HR in the Big Pandemic

Last week I had the honor and pleasure to contribute to the Live Interactions Program of the International Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility (IICSR) and share my thoughts about CSR for HR (human resources). Many thanks to Harsha Mukherjee, IICSR founder,  for her kind invitation. 

Since the publication of my book, CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices in 2010, which now seems like a lifetime ago, I have written and collaborated on several papers, briefings, book chapters and articles on this topic, delivered talks, workshops and facilitated discussions and engaged with HR leaders. Overall, while there has been some shift in approach, I think my mantra: It's time for HR to wake up to CSR is still relevant today. I believe the HR function in general is lagging in its understanding of sustainable business, its willingness to think beyond the traditional HR role and its openness to be a partner in leading sustainable business transformation. A few months back, I gave a talk to a large group of HR professionals in a global company about the connection between HR and the Sustainable Development Goals. For many, it was the very first time they were seeing the broader picture. The arguments are compelling. Companies with progressive HR leadership are undoubtedly, for me, the ones that will be the most agile, resilient and successful over time. 

And then came the Big Pandemic. And with it, an entirely new level of understanding of that well-worn and not entirely true-ringing phrase "our employees are our greatest assets". Now, corporate leaders are using this phrase like they actually mean it, with a new kind of respect in their tone and a degree of compassion in their heart. Through this pandemic, employees have been in focus - both because of their new vulnerability in the workplace and because of their flexibility, creativity and willingness to go the extra mile in a time of crisis. Beyond the essential workers, who in every market have been risking their lives to keep work going, keep people connected, protected and motivated, the rank and file of our global corporations have suddenly become the center... really the center.. not just lip-service to being at the center. I believe a new level of respect for employees by corporate leaders is one of the positive outcomes of COVID-19. I call it a leadership awakening, and if the Human Resources function does not emerge from its comfort zone, embrace this awakening and leverage it to drive a new kind of HR leadership, in a new kind of world, then it will be one of the biggest failures of business today. (I won't dwell here on the Black Lives Matter movement, which is combining with COVID-19 to amplify the need for proactively inclusive business in an inclusive and equitable society. This is of course no less important.) 

Anyway, despite a few technical hitches on the Zoom platform, I delivered an overview of CSR for HR: The COVID-19 Differential, covering the following points:

  • CSR for HR: An overview 
  • The impact of COVID-19 on the management of work 
  • The new challenges for HR leaders managing workplaces in light of the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • The new focus for HR Leaders post COVID-19 
  • The CSR opportunities for HR leaders post COVID-19

Here it is:

Stay well, stay safe, stay optimistic!

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Owner/Manager of Beyond Business Ltdan inspired Sustainability Strategy and Reporting firm having supported 107 client reports to date; author of three books and several chapters on Sustainability Reporting and the Human Resources connection to CSR; frequent chair and speaker at sustainability events and judge in several sustainability awards programs each year. Contact me via Twitter , LinkedIn or via Beyond Business   

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails