Debi O’Donovan: How far does CSR extend?

Debi O'Donovan editor Employee Benefits 2013 (305 x 240)

Everyone has their own way to check whether what organisations say about themselves holds true.

For example, any corporate entity can paint itself green and say it is environmentally friendly. But if its actions do not match its words, it will soon be found out. Probably by its own staff first.

So any organisation that says corporate social responsibility (CSR) is important to it will be aware that it needs to be holistic in its CSR values.

There is a saying among reward professionals: “If you want to see what a company really thinks of its staff, look at how it rewards them.”

Using that thinking in a CSR context, you could say: “If you really want to see what a company thinks of its CSR policies, look at how it relates them to its own staff.”

Where is the CSR thinking when the CEO earns a massive bonus, yet staff are on below-inflation pay rises?

Where is the CSR thinking when staff are put under pressure to produce more, with no robust training and coaching to build their mental and physical resilience?

In recent years, the government has been shifting more responsibility for looking after the nation’s pensions savings on to employers. Similar moves are afoot as regards healthcare and preventing staff going on long-term sick leave.

So employers’ actions in these areas, too, are coming under the CSR umbrella. Employers which claim to be strong on CSR, but which do not pick up this ball will face criticism.

For now, the biggest issue is how employers react to the fact that the primary source of information on financial wellbeing and retirement savings is the workplace.

Auto-enrolment might have been a convoluted tick-box exercise for vast hordes of organisations, but the reality is that everyone needs to be saving far more than the measly contribution levels the legislation currently asks for.

No one feels they can afford to save more. But the very least employers can do is constantly inform staff of the need to save at a higher level. At least then staff would be aware of the fact, instead of being oblivious. This would be a socially responsible action by organisations.

And years before retirement, employers could take the trouble to inform staff of the options that will become available them. The myriad choices now available make uninformed staff more vulnerable to making the wrong decisions.

If your organisation sees CSR as important, does this extend to the financial wellbeing of your own staff?

Debi O’Donovan


Employee Benefits 

Twitter: @DebiODonovan