Taking CSR Global

The world is indeed a smaller place thanks to the internet, global trading, and communication and technology advances. It is now essential for U.S. companies that expand overseas to understand and manage their global workforces if they are to take advantage of the unique benefits, and understand the various rules and laws, different languages, and currencies. With this global expansion comes a responsibility. As companies go global, they must respect other cultures and other workforce environments, and start forming a global profile and consciousness.

Part of this connects to corporate social responsibility (CSR). Studies show that companies with sound CSR plans increase their shareholder value, boost employee morale, and increase brand recognition. Human resources plays a critical role in ensuring that companies compete on a global stage and CSR programs are implemented, followed, and documented.

This can be seen in particular around green and sustainability initiatives. Implementing green practices that assist in environmental waste reduction while promoting and encouraging stewardship growth, better corporate ethics, and long-lasting practices enhance an organization's global standing. Promoting both personal and corporate accountability can have a far-reaching impact, and HR policies and management are key to ensuring these initiatives take place.

Investors and employees are demanding that corporations take on more social responsibility that will contribute to the organization's public and environmental well-being. Likewise, companies are now promoting and encouraging employee involvement in charitable activities and environmental campaigns, as well as new programs to reduce energy and gas use while encouraging recycling.Three Key Areas The rapidly expanding global workplace is also driving the implementation of sound corporate human resources practices that should focus on three key areas for CSR to help create a cohesive map for the present and the future. The three main ways to bridge the gap between corporations and their employees are:

• Proactive community relations

• Strong training and development

• A cohesive global HR platform

Ensuring that an organization maximizes the impact of its CSR efforts begins with encouraging community relations. This can be done through your HR department by implementing reward programs and charitable contributions, and encouraging community involvement and practices. Examples of these programs include emails and company newsletters to staff highlighting employees and managers involved in community relations, and monthly reward programs that recognize efforts by individuals within the organization.

Training and development about CSR best practices is becoming increasingly challenging as the new generation of tech-savvy workers enters the workforce. Employers steeped in traditional HR practices - in terms of how to attract employees, how to communicate effectively with them, and how to establish benefits practices, corporate goals, and ethics - are finding that they must now rethink their approach in order to fully engage today's workers. Employees are demanding easier access to online training, all within a fun, easy-to-use environment.

In order to encourage and maintain a clear and cohesive global workplace committed to CSR, it is critical for the entire global workforce of a company to be on a single, multi-functioning HR platform that allows for a sound corporate responsibility plan. Having a global HR solution that offers organizations the flexibility, ease of use, the right mix of tools is essential to the success of both employees and employers alike.

What you can do as part of your corporate responsibility plan:

1. Recognize, via corporate email, websites, and newsletters, the social-type work done by employees.

2. Institute a rewards program to promote other employees to join these activities.

3. Recycle paper and bottles in offices and recognize departmental efforts to do so.

4. Collect food and donations for victims of floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters around the globe.

5. Encourage reduced energy consumption - subsidize transit passes, make it easy for employees to carpool, encourage staggered staffing to allow for after rush-hour transit, and permit telecommuting to some degree.

6. Encourage shutting off lights, computers, and printers after hours.

7. Work with the information technology team to switch to laptops over desktop computers. Laptops consume up to 90 percent less power. 

8. Increase the use of teleconferencing in addition to on-site meetings and trips.

9. Promote "brown bagging" lunch in the office to help employees stay healthy.

Lastly, critical to the success of your CSR plan is an human resources information software (HRIS) that will provide the capability to effectively plan, control, and manage your goals; achieve efficiency and quality; and improve communication between employees and managers.

The flexibility of your HRIS system is critical to tracking and pursuing a sound community relations plan and a web-native system provides an unparalleled level of both scalability and accessibility to implement your CSR plan on a global level. 

Shafiq Lokhandwala is president and CEO of NuView Systems Inc. He started the HR software company in 1994 and released HR: Expert Suite! the following year. NuView currently has more than 200,000 users of its software.