Responsible people management: a new look at people management from CSR

By Carlos Cortés

Responsible people management emerges from the inevitable virtuous interaction between social responsibility (CSR) and people management. This is revealed by our recent study The influence of CSR on people management.

From analysis of the seven good practices suggested by our research, we conclude that social responsibility integrates effectively and with clear added value into the traditional policies of talent management.

Its objective is to help professionals in their development by adopting new perspectives of social and ethical responsibility that go beyond the traditional models of Human Resources.

CSR initiatives
Source: Carlos Cortés & Ignasi Carreras

In this scenario, we propose three key considerations with a view to moving forward.

1. Going through all the stages of the employee journey with the perspective of social responsibility

It is a matter of changing the questions. By way of example: how would the sense of belonging improve with the incorporation of people at risk of exclusion? What can organisations do to incorporate diversity into recruitment and selection? What new skill development mechanisms does a corporate volunteering programme offer?

How can organisations transfuse sustainable leadership into their culture, especially in middle management? What new economic or internal promotion incentives can be connected with diversity management or other CSR objectives?

How should organisations improve the disengagement process so that those who leave turn into prescribers? And how can communication be changed to take care of those who stay?

2. Ensuring that our interest groups are aware of the benefits of this interaction

A second consideration to move forward is ensuring that our interest groups – shareholders, suppliers, professional teams, management teams and customers – are aware of the benefits derived from the interaction between social responsibility and people management. These benefits include:

  • People feeling a greater commitment and sense of belonging to the organisation as they seek a more authentic connection with its purpose.
  • The resultant improvement in the work environment and the greater motivation thanks to the emotional care or responsible disengagement.
  • And in particular, the increase in productivity as a result of new assets such as diversity.

All these are good practices that are outlined in the study itself.

Responsible leaders generate a common purpose while caring about the development of the people in their team

3. Responsible leadership

In order to play our part in this responsible people management, we must be capable of striking a more subtle and transversal style of leadership, which we call responsible leadership.

The differential value of this leadership is based on three elements:

  • Its capacity to generate a common purpose, fuelled by passion and ethics, in which the generation of economic value is associated with the generation of social and environmental value.
  • A focus on results, from a perspective of responsible business.
  • A focus on the care and development of the people in the team.

In fact, many companies already have CSR or people management practices in place which, perhaps unintentionally, are beginning to interact. This is inevitable from the moment that social responsibility has the workforce itself as an interest group.

This area of mutual influence is already beneficial, but we can move further forward towards convergence. This is where we find ourselves with a challenge and a learning experience:

  • The challenge consists in removing obstacles such as the natural tensions that arise between people and business management. Confronted by this recurring dilemma, CSR offers us an illuminating perspective from ethical compliance beyond the demands of legality, the legitimate pressure of the other interest groups and long-term profit.
  • The learning experience proves that this is a dynamic process. That is to say, a people management practice will be liable to evolve towards an area of convergence with CSR, where they will meet in a strategic alignment. All that is needed is a new approach for the initiatives that are already in progress and to add this responsible transversality to the already familiar people management model.

Therefore, we are not so far away from reaching this responsible people management model. In the light of these three key considerations, what would now be a first powerful step?

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

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