Time and time again, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) pops up in business articles and Harvard Business Reviews as a sustainable business strategy, and these articles never fail to mention CSR as a strategy to win consumers over.
After the class interaction with John Nolan from Proctor & Gamble, I thought about why people want to work for P&G so badly. The fact that they are amongst the first 50 companies on Fortune 500 list is understandable, as was the fact that they provide excellent training and overseas exposure. Does their CSR business model act in any way in attracting not just consumers, but also employees?
CSR refers to the activities, decisions, or policies that organisations engage to effect positive social change and environment sustainability. (Aguilera, Rupp, Williams, & Ganapathi, 2006) It is a powerful driver of sustainability spanning across different functions such as R&D, supply chain and marketing as we all know it. Research also mainly focused on the effects of CSR on performance-based measures such as profit, sales and market share (Greening & Turban, 2000). What about recruitment? CSR is seldom associated as a hiring strategy and I wanted to find out more.
Research demonstrates that employee attitudes and behaviours are heavily inﬂuenced by organisational justice; how fair they consider their organization’s treatment of individuals within the organisation (Cropanzano, Byrne & Rupp, 2001). CSR is similar in a sense, with the slight modification that this time, it’s about how employees consider the treatment of individuals and environment external to the organisation.
The above shows the result of a survey conducted to young working adults from Generation Y, the demographic group known for the most socially conscious consumption to date. This phenomenon can also be explained by the famous social identity theory proposed by the British social psychologist Henri Tajfel, who said that the groups which people belonged to were an important source of pride and self-esteem, giving individuals a sense of belonging to the social world. He said that to increase an individual’s self-image, one had to first enhance the status of the group in which he belonged. Organisation’s reputation in supporting socially responsible causes is definitely a major bonus point in today’s society and the importance placed on sustainability. Such reputation gives employees pride and job seekers the desire to belong to the organisation.
Be it the social identity theory, or the fact that we like to see fair treatment both within and outside the organisation, or the fact that we Generation Y kids are the most socially conscious consumers, there is a common understanding: CSR boosts a company’s competitiveness in terms of its reputation and social image to job seekers. So the answer to my initial question of “Does their CSR business model act in any way in attracting not just consumers, but also employees?” is yes.
I am also interested in finding out if there are factors other than the improved organisational reputation and image due to CSR, that help to attract talents in today’s context. Intuitively, we all want to work for organisations with good reputation and image, but could there be more to CSR? I can’t wait to find out more!
Rupp, D. E., Ganapathi, J., Aguilera, R. V., & Williams, C. A. (2006). Employee reactions to corporate social responsibility: An organizational justice framework.Journal of Organizational Behavior, 27(4), 537-543
Aguilera, R., Rupp, D. E., Williams, C., & Ganapathi, J. (in press). Putting the S back in corporate social responsibility: A multi-level theory of social change in organizations. Academy of Management Review.