The steady rise of CSR and diversity in the workplace

Publication Date08 Aug 2008
AuthorMike Emmott,Dianah Worman
subjectMatterHR & organizational behaviour
The steady rise of CSR and diversity in the
Mike Emmott and Dianah Worman
Purpose – The purpose of this article is to show how two specialist advisers from the Chartered Institute
of Personnel and Development (CIPD) provide practical advice oncorporate social responsibility (CSR)
and diversity.
Design/methodology/approach – The article includes two best practice guides based on the
experience and quantitative and qualitative research of the CIPD. The first half focuses on CSR, what it
means in the workplace and how HR professionals can implement or encourageits take up in a strategic
and meaningful way. The second half tackles diversity, explaining its role in the workplace and its
importance to HR professionals in helping organizations gain competitive advantage.
Findings – The strategic importance of both issues provides HR with an opportunity to demonstrate its
strategic value to the organization. People policies and people management are at theheart of CSR and
Originality/value – CSR and diversity are similar, in that they both have to be approached with serious
intent that results in effective delivery.Purely paying lip service, or poor implementation, is most likely to
have negative implications for the business. There are also differencesbetween the two, a key one being
that there are best practice approaches to guide HR professionals in approaching CSR, whereas
diversity is a more complex concept that relies on approximate reasoning.
Keywords Corporate social responsibility, Governance, Equal opportunities
Paper type Research paper
People policies key to CSR success
CSR has grown in importance over the last number of years and is likely to continue to move
up the corporate agenda. It is all about corporate governance and companies operating in
an ethical manner that takes into account their impact on economic, social, environmental
and human rights issues. This wide responsibility expands the business boundary beyond
the traditional internal and external stakeholders of employees, customers, suppliers and
competitors, to also include local communities and global responsibilities, and it often
requires a partnership approach with external organizations and internally in order to gain
buy-in. There are many drivers behind the rising importance of CSR; public awareness has
been aroused by scandals such as large brands acquiring goods from overseas suppliers
with inhumane labor policies, while employer interest is driven by demand from customers,
employees, regulatory bodies, campaigning organizations and the general public for more
accountability for business impact on society.
On first glance CSR may seem onerous. However, the required partnership approach does
in fact open up opportunities for organizations that think laterally about their relationships
and how they can contribute to the bottom line. Approached proactively, CSR leads to
competitive advantage, for example through enhanced company reputation, increased
credibility or trust in the brand, increased employee engagement and improved talent
attraction and retention.
VOL. 7 NO. 5 2008, pp. 28-33, QEmerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1475-4398 DOI 10.1108/14754390810893071
Mike Emmott and
Dianah Worman are both
based at CIPD, London,

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