Up front: Close the gap between spin and action

Research by HR magazine reveals that for many companies CSR is just a PR exercise. Our Make A Difference campaign aims to help root out 'greenwashing.

Eight in 10 HR professionals believe corporate social responsibilitywill become a more important part of their job within the next fiveyears, according to exclusive research by Human Resources. Yet less thana third respondents say their organisation has a CSR policy and 63%believe their CSR activities are for PR value rather than being builtinto company culture.

Human Resources conducted the research to coincide with the launch thismonth of its Make a Difference campaign. The year-long campaign aims toencourage HR directors to actively embed CSR into their organisationalcultures through engaging employees and closing the 'action gap' - theconspicuous difference between what companies say about CSR and theiractual behaviour.

"The CSR policies and actions of a growing number of companies arecoming under intense scrutiny," says Beck Dawson, sustainable directorof specialist consultancy Hannover and formerly of London's ScienceMuseum, speaking in the HR Director's Yearbook, free with thisissue.

"Accusations of 'greenwashing' are unsettling for those companies whoclaim they are taking great strides, but this is often the result of the'action gap'. If such a gap is allowed to continue it can lead toexternal damage among stakeholders, fuel internal cynicism and dentemployer branding."

More than one in 10 HR professionals already have responsibility for CSRalthough overall it tends to be the board, in a third of cases. The CEOor managing director is responsible in 27% of organisations while 16% ofthose surveyed have a dedicated CSR person or department.

Running a recycling policy is the top activity, with 91% of respondentsdoing this. But volunteering is also popular with three-quarters oforganisations. Nearly a third are incorporating CSR into staffperformance measures and 13% offer incentives programmes reflectingcorporate citizenship.

Launching the campaign, HR editor Sian Harrington says: "Increasinglybusinesses regard CSR as a way of engaging staff as well as helping toattract the best talent. Our campaign is intended to show how HR canhelp companies move from spin to behavioural change, making a differenceto both their businesses and the world."

- See page 23.