Five years ago, CRF produced its first responsible business report. It defined responsible business as the responsibility a business voluntarily takes for its social, economic, and environmental impacts – i.e. core business behaviour and activities. CRF noted at the time that there was rising interest in the topic following a re-evaluation of the role of business in fractured, rapidly changing societies characterised by high uncertainty.
We found a clear business case for responsible business, particularly where it resulted in positive outcomes in terms of customer attraction and retention. We concluded responsible business strategies should be built into the business, rather than bolted on as an afterthought.
This new report on sustainability and HR’s contribution to it is based on interviews with senior HR professionals with sustainability responsibility and a survey of CRF members. We describe the core aspects of organisational definitions of sustainability that go beyond broad but somewhat vague notions of ‘doing the right thing’. We discuss the case for having responsibility sit with different common functions. We then explore HR’s role in contributing to sustainability.
These can be summarised with four themes:
- ensuring ethical leadership,
- advocacy and positioning,
- equipping the firm with skills and knowledge,
- and building a sustainable culture.
We then explore how each of the HR specialist functions contribute to achieving these overarching objectives with cases describing sustainability activity from each of the participating organisations.
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