The CIPD (2003: 5) stated that: ‘The way a company treats its employees will contribute directly to the picture of a company that is willing to accept its wider responsibilities’. The CIPD (2009: 2) also expressed the view that: ‘HR has a key role in making CSR work. CSR without HR runs the risk of being dismissed as PR or shallow “window-dressing”. And CSR is an opportunity for HR to demonstrate a strategic focus and act as a business partner.’
The arguments for HR people taking the CSR agenda seriously were summarized by the CIPD (2003, 2009) as follows:
- Companies are increasingly required to take account of the impact of their activities on society.
- The credibility of CSR is dependent on delivery, not on rhetoric, and HR is responsible for many of the key systems and processes (eg recruitment, training and communications) on which effective delivery depends.
- HR people have relevant knowledge and skills in relation to CSR, eg organizational learning and culture change.
- Managing trust and risk raises fundamental issues about how people are managed.
- CSR offers the HR community opportunities to demonstrate its strategic focus.
- The way a company treats its employees, including its practices on diversity, employee representation and development, will contribute to the picture of a company that is willing to accept its wider responsibilities.
- HR already works at communicating and implementing ideas, policies, and cultural and behavioural change across organizations. Its role in influencing attitudes and links with line managers and the top team mean it is ideally placed to do the same with CSR.