Opportunity for HR to step up and become the ‘mirror of conscience’ the business needs to embed corporate responsibility argues CIPD


More than half (56%) of general managers consider HR’s contribution to their organisations’ corporate responsibility agenda as vital, according to research conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). However, the fact that more than four fifths (81%) of HR managers believe they are vital shows a clear reality gap between where HR would like to be in leading corporate responsibility and its actual standing in the organisation.

As the report, The role of HR in corporate responsibility, highlights, focus on corporate responsibility is rising despite, or even because of, the economic climate. Almost a quarter of managers surveyed (22%) stated that their organisations had increased focus on corporate responsibility over the last year, with only 6% stating that the focus had reduced. The CIPD argues there is a clear opportunity for HR to step up to the challenge and help make a significant difference to this area of real business importance.

Jonny Gifford, Research Adviser at the CIPD and author of the report, says: “Corporate responsibility needs to be owned by all functions and HR does not need to become the in-house experts on issues like carbon emissions or energy policies. But HR should understand how corporate responsibility needs to be embedded through an organisation and its wider value chain and be able and willing to ask the challenging ethical questions. As well as overseeing the ethical treatment of employees (a key strand of corporate responsibility), HR is uniquely placed to understand and help change organisational culture, which lies at the heart of embedding corporate responsibility into the DNA of the organisation.”