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Organizations are coming to realize the bottom-line benefits of incorporating sustainability into their DNA. It’s beneficial for attraction and retention and it’s the right thing to do. HR is a key organizational leader and can take the lead or partner with other executives to work cross-functionally to integrate CSR objectives into how business gets conducted. HR practitioners can act as translators of the organization’s CSR commitment vertically and horizontally across departments. Most will find upon reading this report that they have many good practices underway. Many will find they have a new structure for their thinking they can apply practically in the workplace. Some will believe the current economic downturn will put these ideas on the backburner until the economy rebounds, while others think that organizations which abandon their CSR integration in the downturn will lose ground and breed cynicism in brighter times. Regardless of the point of view, all agree that effective HR leadership on CSR integration requires Board, CEO and executive commitment to be successful. Indeed, the roadmap is predicated on the assumption of this top level commitment. However, more and more organizations are committing to sustainability and to embedding CSR into “all that we do”, so it is hoped the 11 steps provide some guidance as to how to go about doing this.
The firm of the future is expected to have undergone significant transformation such that CSR no longer becomes managed as a separate deliverable, but is part of the experience of being an employee in an organization that lives its values. For human resource professionals embarking on CSR or deepening their CSR experience, this roadmap can help them understand their role in sustainability and CSR and how they can foster an environment that embeds a CSR ethic in “the way we do business around here”.
The Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), is the organization charged with the planning and delivery of the Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler. Common to all organizing committees is the commitment to the three pillars of the Olympic Movement – Sport, Culture and Environment. Given the location of the Games in Vancouver, BC, the decision was made to expand the commitments to the third pillar to a broader “Sustainability” approach.
The commitment to Sustainability at VANOC started with the design of the Organization’s strategy. Sustainability is mentioned in all four levels of the strategy – in the Mission, Vision, Values and Objectives. As the mission and vision, it is embedded in such a way that guides the way business is done; as a strategic objective, it is measured and monitored; and, as a value, it guides the behaviour of the workforce. Not only is sustainability a cornerstone of the strategic plan, the process of designing the mission, vision, values and objectives of the organization was done in a way that is congruent with the values of CSR and included input from all levels in the organization. The Executive responsible for HR guided this process, and secured sponsorship from the CEO, other Executive and the Board of Directors.
With the strategy in place, VANOC developed its people-programs based on its values, and integrated education about the organization’s sustainability commitments into employee and volunteer orientation, the performance appraisal system, recognition program, and employee communications programs.
In addition, the organizational environment is set up to provide daily subtle reminders about the organizing committee’s sustainability commitments – from hand-towel recycling in every bathroom, to a compost in every kitchen; from a LEED Gold certified building, to an energy awareness campaign.
Right from the beginning, employees who are recruited for a role at VANOC go through an initial values screen to ensure alignment with the organization’s strategy. Hiring employees who hold their own value of sustainability facilitates the execution of the CSR strategy.
VANOC also recognizes that commitment to CSR strategy and practices requires developed leaders, and so on-going leadership development occurs through one-on-one coaching, team effectiveness sessions, 360 degree feedback, and management training.
HR at VANOC works closely with the Sustainability function to continue to find creative ways to weave a culture of sustainability into the organizational fabric.
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This paper has been funded by Industry Canada. The author appreciates the following contributors to, and reviewers of, this paper:
EVP People and Sustainability
Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games
Chief Operating Officer
SVP Human Resources & Corporate Secretary
Credential Financial Inc.
Human Resources Canada
Director, Compensation Research Centre
Conference Board of Canada
VP Human Resources
Co-operators General Insurance Company
Manager, Sustainability Policy and CSR
Strategic Policy Branch, Industry Canada
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