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What’s CSR Got To Do With IT? #601/08/10

Five weeks ago I started this series of blogs in the lead up to the itSMF Australia National Conference being held on 23-25 August at the New Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

My keynote presentation at this years conference is entitled:

What’s CSR Got To Do With IT?
IT Service Management and Corporate Social Responsibility

You can access the full conference programme at the itSMF website here.

This is post #6.

In the previous posts we looked at the link between CSR and IT and why it is so high on the CEO agenda. We looked at what it means to the CIO and where the pressure to respond to the demands of CSR was coming from.

The last post suggested that there are four key areas that the CIO should have on his/her agenda in order to underpin the agenda of the CEO in relation to CSR.

These are integration; transparency; employees and green IT.

This week I will look at the third of those – employees.

It is not just about the organisation looking after its employees because consumers care about how well they are being treated. It is also a matter of collaboration, involvement and engagement.

We have already seen that an organisation’s CSR has a direct impact on employee recruitment, retention, engagement and productivity.

A 2007 BT study (Vorster, 2007) revealed that 44% of young professionals said that they would discount an employer with a bad reputation, while nearly half said corporate social responsibility policies should be compulsory.

One-third believes environmental considerations should be the most important topic on the company agenda, ahead of market innovation, flexible working, staff welfare and community investment.

A quarter of respondents believe business has the most influence on the future of the planet, second only to governments.
Alison Garner, corporate social responsibility communications manager at BT, said: “Young professionals are increasingly looking at corporate social responsibility when considering which companies and brands they might work for”.

“Not only is it important to have a solid corporate social responsibility policy, but it is also increasingly important for companies to communicate what they are doing, as it is an area which can undoubtedly provide competitive advantage.”

The key here is engagement and collaboration. Although the CEO and executive level leadership have to set the general direction for the organisations CSR activities, it is the employees that play a pivotal role in helping to define and refine these activities.

Employees are eager to be a part of the solution, to implement practices that reduce any negative environmental or social impact of their organisation, and to come up with new products or services that their company may introduce.

CIOs will be instrumental in creating an environment for company wide engagement and collaboration. (IBM, 2008)

There are plenty of studies that show that the Gen Y – more socially and environmentally aware generation – are demanding more.

According to Jordan Walker (Walker, 2008) “Millennials expect to be convinced that employers genuinely care about a greater good beyond financial profit, and they want to both be engaged and included in the process of making a positive impact”.

They want not only to join a organisation with a good CSR reputation but they also want to be part of the movement to create a better world – and to do that from inside the business. This means getting involved in identifying CSR growth platforms, getting creative in applying innovative solutions and getting closer to customers.

Through the CSR strategy, organisations have a unique opportunity to engage employees like never before. However, as an IBM survey (2008) results showed, only 31% of business engage their employees on the company’s CSR objectives and initiatives. This is a significant opportunity lost.

It is up to the CIO to seize the opportunity and drive engagement.

The CIO needs to actively encourage innovation and offer incentives and rewards to employees who contribute ideas and actions in support of the organisation’s CSR.

CSR activities need to be embedded in to the performance management and reward systems, scorecards, KPIs and individual development plans.

Organisations need to compensate employees for ideas benefitting the bottom line and the environment or community.

In my next blog I will explore the fourth item on the CIO agenda – Green IT.

Karen Ferris is a Director at Macanta Consulting