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Should HR spearhead CSR initiatives?

I have been blogging about HR Roles in the past days– on termination related errors, new HR roles, the irony (if not comedy) of being employee champions. I would like to add a new one having been privileged to be part of ECOPs (Employers Confederation of the Philippines) and ILOs (International Labor Organization) advocacy on CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility.

Though CSR is the primary responsibility of the investors, an emerging new role of HR in the Philippines and developing countries could be in the making– to be in the forefront of advocating CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility.

But what is CSR?

CSR, according to wikipedia is

an expression used to describe what some see as a company’s obligation to be sensitive to the needs of all of the stakeholders in its business operations.


A company’s stakeholders are all those who are influenced by, or can influence, a company’s decisions and actions. These can include (but are not limited to): employees, customers, suppliers, community organizations, subsidiaries and affiliates, joint venture partners, local neighborhoods, investors, and shareholders (or a sole owner).


CSR is closely linked with the principles of “Sustainable Development” in proposing that enterprises should be obliged to make descisions based not only on the financial/economic factors but also on the social and environmental consequences of their activities.

In the west and the developed countries, CSR is actively advocated. And in the UK, the Gov’t is on the lead. Please check their website at csr.gov.uk

CSR is like a fire in the forest, this is now a global role. According to Mallen Baker,

One thing that is for sure – the pressure on business to play a role in social issues will continue to grow. Over the last ten years, those institutions which have grown in power and influence have been those which can operate effectively within a global sphere of operations. These are effectively the corporates and the NGOs. Those institutions which are predominantly tied to the nation state have been finding themselves increasingly frustrated at their lack of ability to shape and manage events. These include national governments, police, judiciary and others.


There is a growing interest, therefore, in businesses taking a lead in addressing those issues in which they have an interest where national government have failed to come up with a solution. The focus Unilever has on supporting a sustainable fisheries approach is one example. Using the power of their supply chain, such companies are placed to have a real influence. National governments negotiating with each other have come up with no solutions at all, and ever-depleting fish stocks. That is not to say businesses will necessarily provide the answers – but awareness is growing that they are occasionally better placed to do so than any other actors taking an interest.

CSR is relatively new in the Philippines and most likely in the other developing countries as well. Since only a handful of enterprise are aware and actively engaged in advocating the CSR agenda, and some SME’s may already be practicing CSR but not even be aware of it.

HR, as an strategist, can now play a big role in educating and adding value to their organization and actively participate in CSR projects.

Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice. Proverbs 16:8


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