I recently came across a study by Korn Ferry Institute about ‘CEOs and CHROs - Crucial allies and potential successors’, based on analysis of the data collected across the globe in the said regard. ‘HR has evolved dramatically, from an administrative function to one that is integral to implementing strategy’, it claims. A good study indeed and definitely takes a crucial issue to the discussion table so to say. And nothing as important as the Strategy of the business to survive, flourish and expand could be left to the natural course of development without any intervention for empowering it, irrespective of the age, size and range of the organization.
With the debate of HR function being potential contender of the CEO responsibility is around for quite a time, it would be insightful to understand the leadership attributes entitled to it from the Strategy point of view. And ‘Culture’ being the prerequisite of the Organization Development makes it almost imperative to put it in a sustainability perspective.
Human Resources are the backbone of any organization structure and the effectiveness of any business regarding its market presence, growth potential as well as sustainability, could be as good as its HR, Culture, Strategy and Adaptability; resilience being the barometer. This approach is vital to the business-as-usual status and more so to the business-would-be scenario.
So far so good could have been the status quo with traditional ‘Administrative HR’ wearing another hat of ‘Integral Strategist’ by understanding the core business functions and optimizing the systems and processes for optimum efficiency of all the resources with the state-of-the-art technology at its disposal, had it not been for the new buzzword making it an entirely different ball game altogether.
CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility – and its implications have put everything around the business strategy and HR functions in a deliberating perspective all of a sudden. It’s not that CSR is a brand new concept that dropped from above over the heads of corporate boards; it’s just that CSR’s discretionary nature never really provided the impetus to think creatively about the initiatives that could be intangibly beneficial in long run helping the business being sustainable and not just profitable. What good are the numbers if your (organization’s, in this context) days are numbered, anyway?
‘Initiative’ is the apt word to describe the CSR undertakings as Elbert Hubbard was so profound when he said ‘Initiative is doing the right things without being told.’ But it’s the rapid evolution of the human, may be in the right direction with wrong intentions or vice versa, which made it necessary to make the right things mandatory. And right here does not mean philanthropic, another BIG misconception about CSR, at least in Indian context. As Milton Friedman debated, ‘The business of the business is business. That is making profit and maximizing it’; now it has became crucial to make sure that you are not doing any harm to any element of the ecosystem you belong to while heading for that rise in profitability every year. And why is that? Well, it’s because you have no right to do so and you will have to report your sustainability efforts every year; Period!
Now that’s a lot of work for the HR, isn’t it? Not really. It is just about focusing on the triple bottom line and taking up the challenge of developing an organization culture that is value-based and not just face-value-centric. In Indian culture, it’s a strong belief that only a woman can make a home as she assumes the responsibility of her home and exercise all her authorities to put it on the right track. It remains to be seen how the HR, once upon a time considered auxiliary and overheads, takes up this pivotal role. And it’s the only fraternity that can bring the CSR concepts and ideologies to effect as it deals with ‘People’ – the primary ‘P’ of the 3Ps. Leading from the front, it’s way to go for HR…!