The first day of the new academic year is starting to feel like a distance memory, and the imminent start of the half term break is the signal that autumn is here and that means that the count down to Christmas has begun.
It is not the opening of the Christmas shop at Selfridges that signals the start of the Christmas countdown for me, neither is it the arrival of the junk mail Christmas catalogues, or the changing window displays in the shopping malls. Christmas starts for me when the first charity fund raising campaign leaflets arrive, and the pressure from work colleagues to run fund raising events in the office start to become more impassioned.
Now, do not get me wrong I am no Mr Scrooge! Over the years I have raised my fair share of money for a wide range of charities. I still have somewhat mixed memories of completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks walk in one day of very changeable weather conditions, in aid of a special care baby unit.
But, as the season of goodwill gets closer I do start to wonder how as a human resource management professional I can ensure that the enthusiasm of our employees for charitable activities and the objectives of our company to be a good corporate citizen and fulfil our corporate social responsibilities (CSR) can be done most effectively.
Perhaps, one of the mistakes that we all make is seeing employee fund-raising activities and corporate social responsibility as the same thing?
Fund-raising is about raising awareness of a charity and supporting it so that it can continue or expand those activities. The pictures in corporate brochures and on company and charity websites are a treat for PR departments who are eager for a good news story. From a HR perspective these fund-raising activities are not just about helping other people or employees having a good time, managed properly they can also help to build a sense of belonging through a shared experience, and lead to increased team working.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is more about how the organisation operates, what it produces and how it operates. It’s about creating good from our activities that are essentially about making a profit. But making a profit doesn’t exclude the opportunity to also create good in the community. At least that is the view of Muhammad Yunnus the Nobel Peace Prize winning economist, and founder of microcredit pioneer Grameen Bank.
In his new book, The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions, which is the basis of this week’s free guide Yunnus gives tangible examples of how the good work he advocates is happening all around the world.
Corporate social responsibility is not about providing aid, instead Yunnus promotes an approach that synthesizes business and beneficence to produce a hybrid: social approach to business that promotes personal self-sufficiency and the popular good through commercial activities.
Yunnus, believes that even the most profit-oriented businesspeople can engage successfully in a socially focused approach to business, that taps into everyone’s entrepreneurial spirit and which will have the potential to create a zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero net carbon emissions, society.
Corporate Social Responsibility has been on the HR agenda for a long time, but reading this book does highlight just how much we still have to learn about how doing business and doing good can coalesce.
Download your free guide to Corporate Social Responsibility from Work Place Learning Centre here