Canadian HR Reporter

April 2020 CAN

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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N E W S 8 Authentic — not symbolic — CSR resonates with employees: study While employees may appreciate their employer's CSR initiatives, the more authentic efforts will have a greater impact than 'greenwashing,' says a study. And HR has an important role to play in avoiding the risks, finds John Dujay WHILE plenty of employers claim to practise corporate social responsibility (CSR), it's the ones that have authentic CSR initiatives that will see a greater impact on employees, according to a study. "It's not just about CSR — 'Let's recycle,' 'Let's jump on this bandwagon' — you need employees to believe that you genuinely care about this, whatever it is you're doing," says Magda Donia, associate professor at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa and co-author of the study. "The key benefits are that if it seems to of industries, occupations and levels. "While the economics-based view would make an efficiency argument for organizations to engage in symbolic CSR… our findings underscore the need for organizations to consider the impact of the authenticity of CSR initiatives as significant determinants of their employees' attitudes and behaviours. While symbolic CSR may accrue immediate reputation and profit enhancement from external stakeholders, only CSR attributed as substantive confers valued employee attitudinal and performance benefits to the organization," said the authors of the study in the Journal of Business Ethics. When CSR is seen as being truly genuine, employees tend to become more productive, says Donia. "Absolutely, because these positive attitudes in themselves are related, too, and we also found performance benefits — and not just performance in terms of self-reporting of higher output at work, but also when people are happy in their work and they have a positive attitude." Positive outcomes were found by the researchers in areas such as "organiza- tional identification, person-organiza- tion fit, perceived organizational support, trust in the organization, pride in the organization, reduced cyni- cism and lower turnover intentions." lead employees to have more positive attitudes at work and higher performance. "The key there really is an individual's perceptions: It doesn't matter what the true, underlying motive is because people can often detect what a true motive is and people make distinctions about what's genuine and what's not genuine." Authentic CSR In looking at the employee outcomes of CSR attributions as substantive (cause-serving) or symbolic (self- serving), the researchers interviewed 371 North American workers in a range Definite benefits to CSR For those companies that wish to undertake a CSR effort, the effects do show up on the bottom line, says Coro Strandberg, president of Strandberg Consulting in Burnaby, B.C. "There are longitudinal studies that demonstrate businesses that focus on improving its social and environmental performance out-compete in the long run," she says. "It is a route to differentiation and a route to competitive advantage." As well, expenses can be reduced in an all-out CSR effort, she says. "Typically, in the Canadian context, the reason companies are pursuing this is for brand and reputation purposes or for social licence to operate, or because CSR practices have been found to reduce operating costs: waste management costs, electric utility costs, fuel costs, reduce turnover, reduction in hiring cost; there's a high degree of operational benefit to pursuing CSR practices." For employers, CSR is no longer a nice-to-have, it's an expectation, says Donia. "Corporate social responsibility is profitable, people more and more care, there are a lot of social challenges and environmental challenges and there's almost like a consensus that they have a say in improving things for society. There's a lot of incentive to be involved in it and individuals make that distinction for everything that we observe — we are able to make judgments about if people's motives are genuine or self-serving." CSR-focused employers At Vancity, a member-owned financial institution in Vancouver, CSR is embedded into every aspect of the corporate structure via a "values-based banking model," says Sharon Norris, director of leadership and organizational effectiveness. "It's a model that's designed to enhance the financial, social, environmental "Any efforts that align with your business' core values, which you can focus on authentically, are good CSR efforts." Hilary Lloyd, Body Shop CSR EFFORTS POPULAR WITH CANADIANS Source: Randstad 77% Canadians who want to work for a company that has a strong CSR program 71% Canadians who would do unpaid voluntary work if their employer gave them paid time off 55% Canadians who say it's important for an employer to participate in charitable and philanthropic initiatives 65% Canadians who think it's important to make a contribution to society by doing unpaid voluntary work

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