Human Resources and Responsible Sourcing: The Melding of HRM and CSR Initiatives

By Erik Plesset

How does the HRM department support “Responsible Sourcing” as part of an organization’s Corporate Social Responsibility strategy and why should it be part of their mandate in building their organizational culture?  Today’s employees, customers and stakeholders now scrutinize an enterprise’s supply chain sourcing which includes environmental standards, product safety and the ethical treatment of workers. And they hold them accountable for the accuracy of what is reported and exposed.  With the shift in accountability being laid on the corporation, “HRM comes to be seen as an implicit steward for good work, not only for the corporation’s direct employees, but also for the people working indirectly for the organization (e.g. through sub-contracting, temporary employment agencies or suppliers).” 1   And if the public decides there is something negative about how a company conducts business, the consequences of immediate and future damage to the company’s brand and reputation depress sales and alienate investors in today’s über-amped-up social media atmosphere.  


Growing beyond the sometimes eye-rolling obligation of supporting non-profits or social causes through charitable donations and functioning as a PR tool, CSR now boldly carries the weight of increasing productivity, retaining employees and delivering economic gains that are seen in the price of publicly traded stocks.  With this swing in attitude and perception, HRM has an opportunity to contribute to a triple-bottom line benefiting people, the environment and the fiscal health of the company. They attract and hire those who will carry out the mandates that benefit society from an ethical, environmental and economic standpoint. Being directly involved in developing and enforcing a company’s CSR strategy such as responsible sourcing practices, embedding the concept of sustainable development as a priority in corporate policies and working across internal sectors with the PR and marketing teams, adds to the success of these multi-faceted business practices.  


One of the most powerful sustainable resources are the people who show up to work every day, and innovative CSR policies continue to influence employee retention rates.    

  • 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds were more motivated and committed at work if they felt their employer had a positive impact on society
  • 69% of 18- to 25-year-olds and 60% of 25- to 34-year-olds would leave their job for a similar one if that organization had a more positive impact
  • 76 % of participants (of all ages) think organizations should have ethics and sustainability embedded and woven through all departments, not just included as part of a CSR strategy


If you are part of a Human Resources department, you have the ability to guide and champion sustainable sourcing platforms.      




2  FROM SB15 London