HR’s Role: Human Rights & Social Responsibility (HRSR)


HRSR, human rights

By Bill Swan, MLS, SHRM-SCP, Principal Consultant

In today’s global business world, ethical practices are gaining prominence. Consumers and investors now demand companies not only be profitable but also contribute positively to the planet and people. Human resources (HR) plays a crucial role as a driving force for corporate human rights and social responsibility (HRSR).

Beyond Benefits and Paychecks: HR’s Role Redefined (HRSR)

Traditionally, HR focused on recruitment, hiring, performance management, policies, compliance, and employee relations. However, in the context of HRSR, the role of human resources expands significantly. HR becomes the company’s guide toward ethical and sustainable practices, respecting human rights and contributing to society at large. This involves several key responsibilities:

  • Championing human rights throughout the organization: HR can establish and enforce policies that uphold human rights within the workplace, addressing discrimination, harassment, fair compensation, and safe working conditions. This extends beyond the company walls, with HR advocating for ethical supply chain sourcing practices and responsible supply chain management. How well are your third-party supply chain employees treated, and what about their work conditions?
  • Building a culture of social responsibility: Fostering a culture where employees feel empowered to make a difference is crucial for deeper engagement in company values and impact. HR can organize volunteer opportunities, support employee-led social responsibility initiatives, and integrate social responsibility into performance evaluations. This builds employee engagement and strengthens the company’s commitment to human rights and social responsibility.
  • Training and development for a conscious workforce: Educating employees about human rights, fair labor practices, and sustainability empowers them to be responsible stakeholders. HR can develop programs and awareness campaigns that equip employees with the knowledge and tools to act in alignment with HRSR values.  Have you asked hard questions about company products and services?
  • Driving diversity and inclusion: A diverse and inclusive workplace is not just ethically sound; it’s also good for business. HR can implement policies that promote equal opportunities, break down barriers, and celebrate the unique contributions of all employees. This fosters a sense of belonging and drives positive change.
  • Measuring and reporting HRSR impact: Demonstrating the positive impact of HRSR efforts is crucial to maintaining internal and external buy-in. HR can help develop metrics to track progress on key HRSR goals, analyze the return on investment of corporate social responsibility initiatives, and communicate results.

By actively championing human rights and social responsibility, HR professionals act as ethical compasses for their organizations. They ensure that corporate success is achieved without compromising human well-being or causing environmental harm. This not only safeguards the company’s reputation but also attracts and retains top talent, fosters employee engagement, and contributes to a more just and sustainable world.

So, the next time you think about HR, remember, it’s not just about hiring and firing. It’s about building a better future, one ethical workplace, and responsible business practice at a time. Within that mission, HR professionals hold the power to be leaders in the corporate landscape.

Together, we can build a world where businesses thrive alongside a healthy planet and a more just society. If your organization could use help developing corporate social responsibility and human rights initiatives, FIT HR can help. Contact us.