Six steps to more purpose-driven CSR beyond the Covid-19 pandemicby
In the second of a two-part content series on strategic CSR, Veronica Broomes offers advice for HR practitioners on how to make the business case for a more integrated CSR approach in a post-pandemic world of work.
Since March 2020, businesses in the UK and elsewhere around the world have experienced a rapid change in the way work is done.
HR practitioners have found themselves centre stage as they have responded with urgency to employees working from home, navigated the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, kept abreast of government guidelines on maintaining social distancing in the workplace and, more recently, been part of discussions about potential redundancies in the business.
The latter is likely to increase over the next few months as employers decide which skills and resources are pivotal to the business in the short to medium term.
Extraordinary as it has been for HR practitioners over a period spanning a mere 10 weeks, this is doubtless a time of incredible opportunities for HR to influence what becomes the 'new normal' in the relationships between employees, their teams and the wider business.
HR practitioners should use this moment in time to harness their expertise and become influencers of the new workplace. This includes building the case for strategic approaches to CSR, instead of continuing to follow the well trodden path of philanthropy-driven CSR. Often traditional philanthropy-driven CSR is unrelated to core operations of the business. Indeed, the public often perceive monetary contributions to selected charities and employee volunteering as thinly disguised (at times blatant) opportunities for marketing and public relations.
Six steps to CSR success
What is proposed is not a small task. Effective execution can be achieved, however, with the commitment and engagement of key internal and external stakeholders.
Here are some suggested actions HR teams can take for a more strategic approach to CSR.
- Review existing policies to identify where the organisation is already taking action to contribute to key pillars of sustainability – environment, social, economic, governance.
- Arrange a sustainability audit of your organisation. Not only will this allow you to identify ways to increase efficiency in use of resources (energy and water), waste management and travel, but it will also ensure that credit is given to actions taken already.
- Encourage procurement/finance teams to select energy suppliers offering higher levels of renewable energy in the electricity supplied to workplaces. Progressively reducing fossil fuel in the energy supply has the dual benefit of reducing carbon emissions as well as spend on energy.
- Use data from the company's sustainability report to highlight how the company's carbon footprint has decreased over time and identify future targets.
- Communicate through the UN Global Compact website, actions taken to reduce carbon emissions.
- Facilitate access to information for employees who request funds investing their pensions to provide information about the ESG profiles of companies in which their pensions are invested.
When CSR is embedded in core operations of organisations, outcomes can be beneficial for multiple stakeholders. Through transformative purpose-driven approaches, 21st century organisations can demonstrate meaningful impact on relevant sustainable development goals (SDGs), as well as genuine concern about global climate change and implications for the planet's resources.
In time, this will move CSR from the periphery to the mainstream and the resulting benefits will be greater and longer lasting.
Interested in this topic? Read Sustainable capitalism: business as a force for positive change.