What Is Socially Responsible Human Resources? A Guide for Organizations

Sign that reads: Take only photos, leave only footprints.

If you’re clued into the latest trends in the business world, you might have heard about socially responsible human resources management or SRHRM. Research shows that demands for corporate social responsibility (CSR) have increased in recent years — stakeholders expect organizations to do the right thing. Socially responsible human resources management offers hiring professionals exactly that opportunity.


What is Socially Responsible Human Resources (SRHRM)?

Socially responsible human resources management is actually quite a simple concept: It’s a set of ethics and values that organizations can implement to create a more sustainable and equitable society, both inside and outside of the office

No business is an island, so socially responsible human resources management means accountability for organizations, and, critically, the understanding that businesses operate within communities: neighborhoods, towns, countries, or even the global community. 

Some organizations hint at social responsibility with tax-deductible donations (Think: the extra few dollars grocery stores give you an option to add onto your purchase), but while there’s an added benefit to your company’s reputation in being more ethically minded, operational changes to better support the society in which we live can make real differences in both your employee’s lives and in the lives of your neighbors and customers.


Where to Start with Socially Responsible Human Resources Management

If you’re looking to take your organization in a more ethical direction, start by looking within. Creating a socially responsible workplace is the first step, and you can do that by treating your employees as whole people — not just clock punchers whose existences, wants, needs, and emotions only matter when they’re in the office.


Socially Responsible Programs for Employees

  • Provide comprehensive benefits.
    Comprehensive benefits like excellent health care coverage, family leave, retirement matching, and flexibility can quite literally change people’s lives. Leadership’s first priority should be to provide the best benefits they can — and by benefits, I don’t mean perks like ping pong tables or kombucha on tap.

  • Create real diversity and equity programming and prioritize this critical work.
    It’s easy to pay lip service to calls for greater diversity, but it’s incumbent upon leadership to dedicate time and resources to diligently creating a more equitable workplace. Initiatives that create real change include developing pipeline programs, setting up mentorship and affinity groups, creating transparent and objective paths to advancement, and auditing salaries to root out any discrepancies.

  • Invest in your employees’ success and continued development.
    Your employees have every right to want to grow on the job, and you can make clear how much you value them by providing training, certifications, and education on the company’s dime and on company time.


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Socially Responsible Human Resources Outside Your Organization

Once you’ve taken care of your employees (put your own mask on before you help the person next to you, they always tell us), turn your attention outward to the community in which your organization lives. 


How to Get Your Organization Out Into the Community

  • Support employees’ volunteer efforts with paid time.
    Is your office down the block from a food bank? Why not spend one Thursday afternoon per month taking a field trip and helping out? Or, if you’d rather let your employees pick their own volunteer time, why not offer a flexible, two-hour block twice a month for volunteer work done in the community — everything from tutoring to cleaning up parks to stuffing envelopes will qualify. Make sure to honor the volunteer work your employees do in a quarterly lunch or newsletter — never be afraid to sing their praises.

  • Provide job training to people in the community.
    Do you operate a warehouse with opportunities for new hires? Are you looking for customer support agents to handle the phones? Consider offering free job training to community members, and then invite them to apply. Even if they don’t end up joining your team, you’ll have given your neighbors new skills that can serve them in their job search.

  • Audit your organization’s environmental footprint, and make real changes.
    We often take for granted how much businesses impact our environment and are more likely to address climate change with individual solutions like home recycling. But businesses are in a prime position to address their environmental impacts, and a thorough audit might turn up inefficiencies and wasteful behaviors that need not continue.


In the wake of the Great Resignation, employees are getting more vocal about getting their needs met, and leadership truly must listen. Socially responsible human resources management is the way things are moving going forward, and it’s an opportunity to take care of fellow humans in your life. Let’s welcome it with open arms.


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