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Archive for the ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ Category

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In the week that has followed International Women’s Day, I have read with interest some very impressive statistics on the progress women have made over the years. Earning the right to vote, ascension to leadership in Fortune 500 companies, success in male-dominated professions and legislation protecting safety, pay scales and employment access were in the mix of articles and social media posts published on or around March 8.

In spite of the progress, we must lament the fact that far too many women with limited access to economic opportunities continue to be persuaded or forced into prostitution and human trafficking situations, where they are sexually exploited for the profit and entertainment of unscrupulous men.

Just one month before International Women’s Day, the 2015 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition was released with the model on the cover removing her bikini bottom, leaving very little to the imagination. Appallingly outrageous!

But before you think I’m going to take a prudish position on this, I’ll say that I am thrilled that feminism has earned women the right to make our own choices. We can boldly be who we want to be, choose what we wear and how we wear or not wear what we want to wear. Bravo!

What I find appalling is the consensual use of a woman’s body as a sexual object to market men’s entertainment products. I am disappointed that the model on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover has chosen to have her body used in this way. It does nothing to uplift the portrayal and image of women and it is a slap in the face to the many women and men who are working so very hard to build respect and gender equality.

It is unfortunate that the media is neither an enabler nor a game changer in the quest for genuine gender equality. The 2014 Hollywood Diversity Report states that 74.4% of leading roles in Hollywood movies are portrayed by men. With the majority of movies telling men’s stories and women who too often play secondary roles as lovers, wives and girlfriends, it is no small wonder that stereotypes of women as sex objects continue to be perpetuated.

I am not advocating censure. I am advocating opportunities and choices for women to be positively portrayed in the media, which influences public perceptions. Bearing in mind that men make up approximately 50% of the population, women need to make responsible choices about the opportunities they accept in the domains of advertising and entertainment. In spite of any progress women make in the corporate, academic or any other field of economic activity, the portrayal of women in the media holds an even greater influence on the way in which women are perceived and treated by men.

I stand fully behind the programs that support women’s professional development. Kudos to the women and men who have launched projects to increase the proportion of women on corporate boards and in senior leadership positions. But since we believe in freedom of choice, not all women will choose to ascend the corporate hierarchical ladder, if and where it exists, in the new corporate world order.

The focus must be on empowering women and girls to develop their talents in whichever field they desire, and to have the self-confidence to decline offers of economic gain that objectify them for the benefit of men’s entertainment.

See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important.

http://www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

@Camille21162

@Glorymatters

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Lorsque les actions des entreprises nuisent à la collectivité, leurs licences d’entreprise peuvent être révoquées, des amendes et d’autres sanctions peuvent être imposées en vertu de la loi ou les citoyens peuvent retirer son patronage et profits, et ainsi mettre en péril l’existence de l’entreprise.

Beaucoup d’entreprises investissent des ressources considérables dans les actes philanthropiques qui sont collectivement emballés et promus comme la responsabilité sociale des entreprises (RSE). Les rapports RSE tentent d’offrir au public, quelque évidence que l’entreprise agit de manière responsable et contribue au bien-être de la collectivité.

Un grand nombre d’entreprises ont mis en place des codes d’éthique pour établir des normes de pratiques commerciales qui vont plus loin que les exigences de base de la loi. En outre, les entreprises définissent les valeurs morales qui façonnent la culture de leur entreprise, dans l’attente que ces valeurs seront attestés dans le comportement personnel et professionnel de ses employés.

Nous vivons maintenant dans une ère informatique où les sociétés sont sous la surveillance constante du public. Les actions et les intentions implicites des agents de l’entreprise sont très souvent jugées en utilisant les principes moraux et éthiques comme la norme, et non seulement les exigences de base de la loi ou le contenu des rapports de RSE.

Un exemple concret –

Les citoyens de Lac-Mégantic, Québec, ont été outrés par la réponse retardée de Ed Burkhardt , président de MMA, la société dont les trains transportant du pétrole brut ont déraillé et dévasté leur petite ville . Au cours de sa première, bref (et seul?) visite à Lac-Mégantic cinq jours après la catastrophe, M. Burkhardt a basé son message à la population, sur les engagements juridiques potentiels et les réclamations d’assurance.  De plus, il a blâmé un employé et a suggéré que le service d’incendie aurait pu contribuer à la catastrophe. L’indignation suscitée par la réaction de M. Burkhardt est compréhensible et justifiée. Son comportement a démontré ses préoccupations portaient principalement sur ​​les responsabilités de base légales. Et oui, il y a beaucoup qui est éthiquement et moralement répréhensible quand le président d’une entreprise reste dans le confort et la sécurité de son bureau et sa maison qui sont de nombreux kilomètres loin de la zone sinistrée où des centaines de personnes restent sans abri, sans emploi et dans le cas de près de 50 personnes, mortes, à la suite des actions de son entreprise – peu importe qui finalement s’avère être légalement responsable de la catastrophe.

Voir le tableau d’ensemble

Les entreprises doivent accepter qu’ils ne sont pas seulement les institutions établies par la loi, ayant des obligations légales. Il faut que les gestionnaires, employés et actionnaires des entreprises aient une vue du tableau d’ensemble – c’est à dire d’accepter que les entreprises ont la responsabilité morale et éthique pour s’assurer que leurs actions, ne nuisent pas à la collectivité même si ces actions soient intentionnellement ou accidentellement causées.

Mettre la sécurité publique au-dessus des profits est le véritable test pour savoir si une entreprise agit d’une façon moralement responsable. La réponse rapide et des mesures correctives de Johnson et Johnson dans la crise de la capsule Tylenol en dépit de plusieurs millions de pertes de recettes, a démontré la reconnaissance de son obligation auto-imposée d’éviter de nuire aux citoyens, même si l’entreprise n’a pas causé directement la contamination des capsules.

Ciblez les éléments importants
Comme les responsabilités morales et éthiques sont auto-imposées, les entreprises doivent trouver des moyens clairement définis de s’assurer qu’elles assument ces responsabilités. Quelques suggestions :

  • La formation annuelle pour les employés sur le code d’éthique – Chaque employé devrait lire attentivement et signer le code d’éthique, attestant de sa compréhension et conformité. La formation devrait inclure des scénarios probables dans lequel les employés auront besoin d’appliquer les normes éthiques et morales de l’entreprise.
  • Un comité d’audit moral – Mettre en place un comité qui traite des situations qui présentent des dilemmes éthiques et moraux pour les employés et pour l’entreprise. En outre, le comité devrait examiner périodiquement les implications éthiques et juridiques des pratiques commerciales de la société. Par exemple: prix et promotions spéciales, les relations avec les fournisseurs et l’attribution de contrats, le positionnement concurrentiel dans la publicité et les éventuels conflits d’intérêt dans l’acquisition de talents.
  • Téléphone confidentiel ‘Whistleblower hotline’ – La mise en place d’un moyen sécurisé pour les employés de dénoncer des pratiques commerciales et le comportement des employés qui vont à l’encontre du  code d’éthique et les valeurs de l’entreprise.

Protocole de gestion de crise – Le protocole devrait inclure des lignes directrices pour la communication transparente et codes de comportement pour les agents de l’entreprise qui se concentrent sur l’empathie, les mesures correctives et les intentions de la société.

Voir le tableau d’ensemble. Cibler les éléments importants.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

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When corporations cause harm to the society, their corporate licences can be revoked, fines and other sanctions can be imposed under the law or society can withdraw its patronage and profits, placing the corporation’s existence in jeopardy.

Many corporations invest significant resources in philanthropic acts which are collectively packaged and promoted as corporate social responsibility (CSR).  CSR reports offer the public some proof that corporations are acting responsibly and are contributing to the well-being of the society.

Some corporations have established corporate codes of ethics to set standards of business practice that go above the base-line requirements of the law.  In addition, corporations define moral values that shape the corporate culture, with the expectation that these values will be evidenced in the personal and professional conduct of employees.

We now live in an information age in which corporations are under constant public scrutiny.  The actions and implied intentions of corporate agents are very often judged, using moral and ethical principles as the standard, and not just the base-line requirements of the law or the content of CSR reports.

A case in point

Citizens of Lac Mégantic, Québec, were outraged at the delayed response of Ed Burkhardt, president of MMA, the company whose derailed train carrying crude oil devastated their small town.  During his first (and only?) visit to Lac Mégantic five days after the disaster, Mr. Burkhardt focused his communication in his brief contact with the population, on potential legal liabilities and insurance claims, blaming an employee and implying that the fire department may have played a role in the disaster.  The widespread outrage at Mr. Burkhardt’s reaction is understandable and justified.  His behaviour demonstrated his concerns were primarily focused on base-line legal responsibilities.  And yes, there is much that is ethically and morally wrong with a corporation’s president enjoying the comfort and safety of his office and home many miles away from a disaster area where hundreds of people remain homeless, jobless and in the case of nearly 50 people, lifeless, as a result of the corporation’s actions – regardless of who eventually is found to be legally liable for the disaster.

The BIG picture

Corporations must accept that they are not only legal entities with legal obligations.  Corporations have moral and ethical responsibilities to ensure that their actions, whether intentionally performed or accidentally caused, do not harm the society.  This, in my view, is the BIG picture.

Putting public safety above profits is the true test of whether or not a corporation is acting in a morally responsible fashion.  The swift response and remedial actions of Johnson and Johnson in the Tylenol capsule crisis  in spite of multi-million revenue losses, demonstrated that corporation’s recognition of its self-imposed obligation to avoid harming the public even though it did not directly cause the contamination of the capsules.

Focus on what’s important

Because moral and ethical responsibilities are self-imposed, corporations should find specific, clearly defined ways and means of ensuring that they are fulfilling these responsibilities.  A few suggestions:

  • Annual training for employees on the code of ethics – Each employee should review and sign the code of ethics, attesting to their understanding and compliance.  Part of the training should include likely scenarios in which employees will need to apply the corporation’s ethical and moral standards.
  • A moral audit committee – Establish a committee that addresses situations that present ethical and moral dilemmas for employees and for the corporation.  In addition the committee should periodically review the ethical and legal implications of the corporation’s business practices.  For example: pricing and special promotions, supplier relationships and the award of contracts, competitive positioning in advertising and potential conflicts of interest in talent acquisition.
  • Whistleblower’s hotline – The provision of a secure way for employees to disclose business practices and employee behaviour that are contrary to the company’s code of ethics and corporate values.
  • Protocol for crisis management – The protocol should include guidelines for transparent communication and codes of conduct for the corporation’s representatives that focus on empathetic, remedial actions and intentions of the corporation.

 

See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

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So does corporate social responsibility. Values-based community engagement boosts employee retention by adding meaning.

The proverb “charity begins at home” tells us that in order to extend a helping hand, we need to make sure that our own house is in order first.  That inherent wisdom is valuable in the corporate world too.

 Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has evolved from charitable contributions and philanthropy to the expectation that corporations are obligated to act responsibly in support of society’s well-being.  CSR reports offer the public some proof that corporations are acting responsibly and are continuing to earn the right to exist in the society that supports their business. 

A 2008 Imagine Canada report, Corporate Community Investment Practices, Motivations and Challenges: Findings from the Canada Survey of Business Contributions to Community, noted that 71% of business leaders surveyed agreed that charities and non-profit organizations generally improve the quality of life in Canada.  The same report stated that even more (79%) strongly agreed that businesses and non-profit organizations can mutually benefit from collaborative relationships. 

Many businesses report on their CSR programmes.  BMO Financial Group reports on its multi-level literacy programme as does Microsoft  on their youth and humanitarian response programs.  The reporting draws attention to efforts designed to improve the lives of citizens at home and abroad.  

Corporations need to ensure that their employees are treated with the same care and commitment that they extend to the community through CSR programs. Actions that enhance and preserve the quality of the social and economic well-being of employees can demonstrate corporate commitment to CSR. 

Québec’s Desjardins Group is a great example of this, topping the Corporate Knights list of the “Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada for 2012.”  Part of what makes Desjardins stand out is a dedication to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of its 42,500-person workforce.  The company offers shuttle buses between offices, discounts on a bike sharing programme, a company carpool program and incentives to use public transit.  As well, executive compensation is linked to the achievement of the company’s sustainability-related performance targets.

Values are vital

It is important for a company to establish a clear connection between its values and the aims and objectives of its CSR programs and policies.  Values inspire employee and community engagement with CSR programming.  The alignment of a CSR program with corporate values helps ensure that future decisions will be made in a consistent manner.  Employee training and support in a values-based CSR program is consistent and encourages active employee involvement.

Hitachi is a company with a Canadian division that falls in line with an eight-point global policy that all business units and employees are expected to adhere to, with the goal of promoting a sustainable society and future.  That includes open disclosure and transparency, doing business on the principles of fairness, sincerity and acting with the “utmost respect for human rights,” while pursuing a high sense of corporate ethics.

Integrating organizational development objectives with CSR activities benefits the corporation, its employees and the community.  Involvement of employees in CSR projects can support the strengthening of teams, cross-fertilization of talent and development of technical skills. 

Knightsbridge, a human capital management firm, had 300 of its employees assemble 60 bicycles to donate to the Salvation Army as a team building exercise.   Employees were not only enriched by the team-building experience, but also by having the opportunity to reach out to the children who actually came to the event in order to choose their bicycle.

Employees are an important part of the process when it comes to socially responsible business decisions.  The opportunity to apply decision-making skills in CSR projects is possibly the best way for companies to demonstrate a genuine commitment to their employees and communities.  Also, corporations should reward employees for recommending socially responsible improvements in product development, manufacturing, packaging and distribution. 

A global approach has been explored by some larger companies.  International Corporate Volunteer programmes provide opportunities for employees to work with small businesses, government agencies, non-profit and charity organizations, and associations in varied industries. These programmes are win-win, providing benefits for sponsoring companies, employees, and local clients in key emerging markets. IBM, Accenture, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Starbucks and Ernst and Young are a few companies whose employees have participated.

CSR boosts recruitment

A lot is being said about the role that CSR plays in recruitment and employee engagement, particularly among millennials who will make up 50% of the workforce in 2020Research conducted in The 2006 Cone Millennial Cause Study indicates that 79% of millennials want to work for a company that cares about how it impacts or contributes to society and 64% report that their company’s social and/or environmental activities make them feel loyal to their company.  

Are the publication of CSR reports and the active promotion of CSR initiatives in the recruitment process enough to induce employee loyalty and engagement?  In spite of the prevailing economic conditions, an on-line survey conducted by Right Management in 2010 revealed that 59% of HR professionals in North America believe turnover rates will increase in the next five years. 

Building a positive corporate image through the veneer of highly visible CSR programmes and reports doesn’t seem to be enough to sustain business success.  If corporations intend to attract, retain and engage their employees – particularly the socially minded millennials – more attention and action are required to ensure that the values they promote through CSR programmes are internalized and integrated in daily work.

This article was originally published in YourWorkplace magazine, Volume 15 Issue 1.

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