Does HR have a role to play in fostering the conscience of the corporate citizens for whom they work?
More attention is being paid to corporate responsibility (CR) despite the dire economic conditions associated with the ‘new normal,’ according to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Around a quarter of managers that participated in the CIPD survey said that their focus on CR had increased, whereas only six percent said that it had decreased.
The HR department has a vital role in CR, according to Peter Cheese, CEO – CIPD. “HR leaders are well placed to provide a ‘mirror of conscience’ as well as insight into the changes needed,” he said. Antony Welton, who is both HR director at Vodafone and chairman of its charitable arm, concurred.
A successful business must operate within the context of the customers it serves, its wider community, its stakeholders and colleagues, according to Welton. “Working across all the groups is what will make any business admired, and that is what a great human resources, or in fact every department in the business, needs to be thinking about and working on,” he said.
While CR should be integrated into an organisation, involving all departments, Welton argues that HR has a ‘crucial role’ in preparing for the future workforce. This involves considering the impacts of changing demographics and other social issues.
Part of his organisation’s focus on CR includes diversity and inclusion programmes that focus on Māori and women in particular, for example running a regular women’s network, supporting Māori language week, and launching a Māori language app. There are also initiatives around encouraging employees to telework, payroll giving and staff volunteering, and Vodafone’s instant network mobile response team, which was deployed in the Philippines last December.
A strong focus on CR can improve employee engagement, in Welton’s opinion. He pointed to the fact that more than 90% of Vodafone’s employees think that their organisation is a good corporate citizen while around the same number (85%) are proud to work for Vodafone.
Welton is strongly committed to Vodafone’s CR mission. “CR will always be important and I only see this increasing – or becoming more and more integrated into what we do each day,” he said.