CSR at Workplace

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CSR at Workplace

Today, with a significant number of employees working outside traditional office environments, the definition of “workplace” has expanded to include the home-based offices of telecommuters, automobile-based offices of salespeople and service technicians, hotel rooms of business travellers and temporary offices of itinerant workers.

In addition, diversity of work styles also has led to willingness on the part of many companies to go beyond a “benefits and policies orientation” and look more expansively and creatively at issues in the workplace” (BSR, 2003).

Broad Issues of CSR at workplace


Includes fair wages as per legal compliance as well as beyond legal compliance. In many developing countries, the minimum wages are not sufficient for basic living. For instance, IKEA has factories in developing countries like India where wages are kept particularly low at about ₹2,300 rupees a month when it costs an employee 500 Rupees to take the bus to work and has to manage their entire family within the remaining ₹1800 (Bailly, et al 2006).

Ethical Human Resource Policies

HCL Technologies under the leadership of its CEO Vineet Nayar came up with the concept of “putting the employee first”. This amounted to empowering grass root level employees to participate in decisionmaking. Vineet Nayar has referred to it as “destroying the office of the CEO.”

He has categorically asserted that bottom and middle level employees need to be included in decision-making. This allows HCL Technologies to make decisions where they should be made-at the point where the company meets the customer.

Health and Safety

Includes providing healthy and safe work environment for all employees. Many companies across the globe have failed to provide basic safety to their employees resulting in severe injuries, death, diseases and others.

For instance: “Atlanta ,Imperial Sugar, the owner of a refinery near Savannah failed to implement safety measures even after being aware of them since 2002, resulting in the death of 13 workers in a sugar dust explosion in February,2008”(Dewan, 2008).

Work Life Balance

Includes providing employees balance in their work life with the help of flexible work options, telecommuting, time and stress management skills, better treatment of employees and others. For instance Hewlett Packard (HP) India “offers its employees almost all forms of flexible work options (FWO).

It allows its employees to work part-time or for flexible hours, especially young mothers. Employees are also allowed to return to the normal schedule after working as per any of the flexibility options for a specified time period thus improving the work life balance of employees (ICMR, 2002).

Age of Employees

Includes avoiding child labour and better treatment of older workers. For instance cotton seed companies in India like HUL, Monsanto and others are making use of hazardous forms of child labour in cotton seed production An estimated number of 25,000 children, mostly girls, work an average of ten to thirteen hours a day for HUL, while around 17,000 children work for Monsanto at lower wages as well as hazardous conditions of work (Galleria, n.d.).


Downsizing has been an easy way out for Chief Executive Officers in times of crises. General Electric, for instance under the leadership of its CEO Jack Welch executed retrenchment in large numbers to improve returns on investment. C.K.Prahalad has referred to such practices as “denominator management”.

Diversity in Work Culture

“Includes respect to all current and potential employees by valuing them for themselves, and avoiding placing artificial barriers or distinctions based on colour, gender, age or class, caste and others”(Baker, 2003). For instance, M&S work force diversity as on March 2014 includes 73.2 % women employees, and 37.5 % of women employees are over 50 years of age (M&S CSR report , 2014)


Employees are not slaves and it is important to protect and respect their privacy. “Many companies do resort to routinely monitor employee use of email and the internet. Others believe that such an open lack of trust fundamentally damages the relationship.

High Profile Instances

Includes how companies respond to extraordinary circumstances. One of the most high profile instances being HIV/AIDS (Baker, 2003). Therefore the ILO has made a strong statement through a code of practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work.

The code is instrumental in helping to prevent the spread of the epidemic, mitigate its impact on workers and their families and provide social protection to help cope with the disease.

It covers key principles, such as the recognition of HIV/AIDS as a workplace issue, non-discrimination in employment, gender equality, screening and confidentiality, social dialogue, prevention and care and support, as the basis for addressing the epidemic in the workplace. (ILO report 2010)

Concerns for Freedom

Includes providing employees with a fair and equal right of collective bargaining which is usually suppressed in case of large companies like WalMart, IKEA, Teflon and others. For instance in case of IKEA the research conducted revealed that ten of their suppliers who employed 2000 employees did not permit freedom of association and collective bargaining for wages and overtime.

Consistency Across Different Working Environments

Includes implementation of ethical workplace practices across all their branches/factories across the globe. For instance M&S has 3300 suppliers across the globe. To implement consistency of working environments has created a list of Global Sourcing Principles to be adopted by all suppliers.

This includes supplier’s responsibility, minimum age of employment, freely chosen employment, health and safety, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, no discrimination, working hours, rates of pay and terms of employment, Production sites & labelling, Regular assessment, Environmental responsibility and Commitment to extending these principles throughout the supply chain (M&S, Global Sourcing Principles, 2014).

Benefits of CSR at Workplace

In recent years, companies have shown an increasing interest in being known as a company where workplace policies and practices are viewed favourably by current and prospective employees. These companies have viewed workplace initiatives benefits as a strategic competitive advantage.

Increase in Employee Productivity and Higher Retention

The Japanese automobile firm Honda Motors is renowned for its practice of instilling pride in its workers. The quality revolution at Honda Motors owes much of its success to the workers who work tirelessly on the floor shop of factories of the company with an eye on quality. The words: “I am a Honda man” is now part of the Japanese corporate folklore.


During the ill-fated terror attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai employees of the hotel displayed proactive behaviour in evacuating the tourists and on-boarders of the hotel.

Middle level managers and the ground staff worked in cooperation with the security personnel to safeguard the lives of the customers. The Taj Mahal hotel has emerged stronger after the attack and continues to leverage its brand equity and enjoy customer loyalty.

Credibility and Recognition

Companies adopting CSR at workplace have greater credibility and recognition in the market through various employee survey awards, newspaper articles and others. For instance, Google, received ‘Best Employer’ of 2013. Such recognitions aid in building the organisation’s credibility, retain and attract talented human resources.

Risk Management

Companies failing to implement CSR at workplace have faced various risks and large financial damages due this lapse: For instance, Wal-Mart had to pay 62.3 million $ for withholding payment of 125,000 employees for more than 30 days (Dale, 2007).

Costs and Returns

Although implementing CSR practices for employees is an additional cost for the organisation, the cost of failing to implement socially responsible practices is much more. Adoption of CSR practices helps in higher retention and productivity as stated above in this table thus reducing the cost of high attrition. (Hutchinson, 2004).

Lesser Government Intervention

Implementing CSR practices at workplace provides for services beyond legal compliance thus reducing government interference in achieving organisation goals and objectives.

Designing Work Place CSR Activities

An effective workplace strategy must simultaneously address the social, physical, technical and financial components of the work environment as each factor impacts the others.

To design work place CSR activities the following steps need to be followed:

  • Conduct a review to identify the current human resource polices in place within the organisation.

  • Conduct a survey within the organisation to identify the needs of employees with reference to work life balance, remuneration, working hours, working environment and other states above on the broad areas of CSR at workplace should be carried out.

  • Once the needs of the employees are identified the human resource department needs to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of each of the CSR policies with reference to the benefits and costs to the company, employees and employers

  • Once an analysis is completed, approval from the senior management and board is essential for smooth implementation (Hutchinson, 2004.p 85).

  • Post approval is essential to develop a training strategy to ensure managers understand the methods of implementation.

  • Then the company must formally announce the new polices within the organisation and provide information to all staff members across all levels in the hierarchy , with clearly defined role and steps to be taken by each staff member in the implementation of the new policies’ (Hutchinson, 2004, p 85).

  • Lastly the organisation should conduct quarterly monitoring to know the effectiveness and impact across the expected benefits and costs of the new policies.

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Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

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