Internationalization of companies and expansion of their business activities into other countries has spurred heightened interest in the social facet of companies over the last few years. Citizens around the world are increasingly better informed; their values have undergone a transformation—raising their ecological and social awareness, and stepping up what they expect from companies. Global organizations are addressing the new social demands voiced by their interest groups through environmental and social actions, among others, that go beyond their own economic interests. These form part of the concept called CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).
What are the repercussions of CSR for the HR domain? In this new context, today companies are expected to take on a series of social responsibilities, one of which includes caring and respecting the people forming part of their organizations. This issue has become strategic for HR and often falls into their set of responsibilities.
According to the report by Universia Business Review, there are a series of guidelines and certifications, most of which are voluntary, that help companies to comply with their CSR-related duties and which directly affect the HR domain.
1. List of socially responsible companies: these emerged in the eighties in the USA and have extended to the rest of the world. Their purpose is to identify the companies with the best ethical and social practices. Of the best-known ones at the international level worth mentioning are the North American indexes, FORTUNE, The 100 Best Corporate Citizens or The 50 Best Workplaces drawn up by the Great Place To Work Institute.
2. Sustainability Indexes: these allow companies to endorse certain CSR-related practices as set out by the index provider. The indices with the most impact in the media are the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI Word) which aims to steer more sensitive investors towards sustainable development and social practices and the FTSE4Good. These were launched by two reputable index providers, Dow Jones and FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange) respectively.
3. Codes of conduct: basic reference guide for management in their daily activities that serves to connect the corporate mission and values to daily behavior in the company. It also provides clear guidelines on actions that complement the rules and policies for different areas of the company.
4. International regulations: voluntary ratification by companies on their commitment towards certain agreements, declarations or regulatory frameworks drawn up by institutions or NGOs like the United Nations Global Compact, the OECD Directives for multinational companies or the EU Green Book, a document aimed to stimulate debate on the EU contribution to increasing social responsibility in companies on a European and worldwide scale.
5. Social Reports: documentation presented by companies together with the financial budget report, detailing social actions regulated by international GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) directives, used for drawing up the social sustainability reports based on a fairly homogeneous criteria through the inclusion of a set of indicators that facilitate transparency and comparability between such reports from different companies. Concerning indicators on labor and human right practices, these are based on the ILO tripartite declaration of principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy, and the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises.
6. Certification based on specific standards of ethical management of human resources: like the AccountAbility 1000 (AA1000) standard which the certifying entity uses to verify information in order to assure accountability, performance and reporting on social and ethical aspects of governance, or ISO 26000:2010 which promotes the integration of socially responsible behavior in any organization.
In recent years, it has become apparent that CSR, something that initially seemed a fleeting fad, is far from disappearing; it has gradually consolidated in today’s society. It is no longer enough for companies to look responsible, they also have to be so, and what better way to achieve it by starting to take care of their main value: the people that form them.