Posted by: healingtheworkplace | July 5, 2009

The Time Has Come For Changes In The Workplace

Hi there, today I’m going to write about Corporate Social Responsibility. 

Two recent posts to healing the workplace got me thinking about how organizations change and why:

One person wrote that she had discovered that her boss was “untrustworthy and unethical” and the other person wrote “the lack of jobs in the U.S.A. has bosses thinking that they can overwork and emotionally and mentally abuse employees and (sadly) nothing appears to have been done to stop this.”

I think that when these things are happening to you it seems like nothing can be done and that this is happening to everyone, everywhere.

I know, I’ve been there and it is a not a very good place to be.

Unfortunately there are abusive and unethical bosses. It is a fact of life.

If you work for one of these you have to make some difficult choices about whether you stay or whether you leave your job.

Sometimes you can’t leave the situation immediately because you need the job. If this is the case you need to find ways to look after yourself AND you need to start looking for another job.

But on the macro level…if we look at the big picture in North America (and this is where I segue into Corporate Social Responsibility) I believe that we are seeing a shift in how organizations operate and how they treat their employees.

Corporate Social Responsibility is not a new idea. In fact an early proponent of CSR was the American industrialist Andrew Carnegie.

CSR has been debated and discussed in one form or another through-out the 20th century.

It has only really “taken off” in the past 30 + years.

So, what is CSR and what has it got to do with how employees are treated in the workplace?

Here’s a definition of CSR from a 2002 article in the South China Morning Post:

“The notion of companies looking beyond profits to their role in society is generally termed corporate social responsibility (CSR).

 It refers to a company linking itself with ethical values, transparency, employee relations, compliance with legal requirements and overall respect for the communities in which they operate.

It goes beyond the occasional community service action, however, as CSR is a corporate philosophy that drives strategic decision-making, partner selection, hiring practices, and ultimately brand development.”

CSR is more than the “right thing to do” from a moral and ethical perspective.

There is firm evidence that businesses that adopt a CSR approach do just as well or better financially than businesses that don’t adopt this approach.

I am also certain that CSR is more likely to be adopted by businesses in more affluent countries where people have a choice about where they work and where they spend their hard earned income.

This is reflected in North America by the choices made by the “baby boomers” and more recently by generations x and y whose values line up with those of organizations that embody the values of CSR.

The recent economic crisis, that began in America and resulted in massive economic upheaval around the world, has resulted in a growing demand for transparency and a renewed focus on the “triple bottom line”–people, profits and the planet.

People, otherwise known as employees, are key organizational stakeholders.

Organizations that recognize this and treat employees as “having a stake” in the organization are on the rise.

Have you read the book “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell? If you haven’t you should because what Malcolm has to say is VERY interesting:

“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”

CSR is at a threshold…and there is no going back.

As you have probably figured out by now I am an optimist and I see the glass as half full.

 I firmly believe that there will be a continued shift toward organizations that are socially responsible.

Bye for now!


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