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Corporate social responsibility and human resource management
Published on August 30, 2022 11 min
Other Talks in the Series: Key Concepts: Human Resources Management
My name is Professor Christine Cross and I work at the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick in Ireland. Today's topic is Corporate Social Responsibility and Human Resource Management.
Society expects business to adhere to certain social and ethical standards. By that, I mean to meet its corporate social responsibility, or what's often termed CSR. While a business needs to make a profit in order to survive and grow, profit maximisation is not the only concern of business, in relation to Human Resource Management, how a company treats its employees is part of its corporate social responsibility agenda. Firms are also exposed to reputational risk in relation to how contractors and workers in supplier firms are treated. In other words, the HR practices of a company and of its suppliers increasingly matter to the outside world.
What exactly is CSR and what does society expect of a business? CSR is a broad umbrella term and there is no one clear definition of exactly what it entails. While there is a shared acceptance in the literature that business has a responsibility to a wider societal good, different definitions stress different dimensions. We can identify corporate social responsibility as the duty of a business to go beyond profit maximisation and act responsibly and contribute positively to society. Interestingly, definitions of CSR don't mention obeying the law. This is because while the legal framework sets minimum standards, CSR is about a higher standard. The phrase often used by CSR managers is going 'beyond compliance'. CSR is about voluntary action and self-regulation by firms to go beyond what the law requires of them. Also, many writers in the field of CSR and firms who engage with CSR no longer use the word 'social', preferring instead to use 'corporate responsibility', 'responsible business', 'corporate citizenship', or some other broad title. This is because the CSR agenda has widened beyond social issues to include the environmental and sustainability issues of our time.