By Aman Singh

Last week, I moderated what marked the first of eight panels on the increasing role of CSR in recruitment.

Help Wanted_iStock_Carou_000000795349XSmallMy mission, along with host and sponsor IE Business School, is to help recruiters understand why – and how – a company’s work culture and values-oriented mission can be an immensely valuable recruitment tool.

Of course, there is a lot of resistance to what I am proposing.

For the longest time, human resources professionals have shoved the relationship between the promise of corporate social responsibility and hiring the “right candidate” under the carpet for fear of “more work” as well as a real fear of muddling what is an already complicated process at most large companies.

Perhaps it has something to do with the way CSR is perceived. For the longest time, we have associated responsibility with giving money or collaborating with a nonprofit organization on a set of causes. Now, we are saying CSR is inwards-facing, that it’s about employee empowerment and development. So, how does this new approach change the job description of an HR manager?

Not by a lot really.

By ensuring a diverse pool of candidates, you are being responsible. By discussing the company’s mission, values and commitments you are being responsible. By advocating for engagement, leadership development and opportunities to give back, you are practicing responsibility.

So why is CSR so hard to understand?

Organizational Design: Divide and Rule

Because we love working in silos. Silos give us structure, deadlines, parameters, measurement.

For example, when I say, “retention is an important recruitment function,” I am told I’m barking up the wrong tree because that’s the responsibility of the HR manager, not the recruiter.

As one recruiter said, “Our job is to get the client the best qualified candidate. It’s a very linear objective.”

It’s a lot like saying that “CSR has nothing to do with me.”

However, if recruiters aren’t examining candidates for cultural fit, there is a much higher chance that the employees won’t stick around. As for you, HR director, there go your efforts at sprucing up your benefits offerings.

It’s a tried and tested concept that a workforce’s loyalty is closely linked with brand perception and aligning professional growth with company success.

The Zappos Employee

During one of his book tour stops last year, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh discussed the rigorous process all the company’s potential candidates have to go through. I reported then:

“Failure to contribute to company culture, whether by being uncommunicative, a high achieving loner or simply not a people person, are all reasons for dismissal, he said.

That’s why every new employee at Zappos receives five weeks of training. “If you’re not a good fit, you don’t make it to the end of those five weeks,” he added.”

For Zappos, this ensures that retention rates, engagement levels, and personal growth goals all remain high.

What’s the Return on your Recruitment Strategy?

It’s simple really. If you invest in recruiting the right fit for your company culture, the return will be in your favor as well as the candidates’. They will be your brand ambassadors for life.

Do you realize how many checkmarks that can get you in your performance evaluation?

Employer branding: Check.

Retention: Check.

Volunteering efforts: Check.

Employee Resource Group participation: Check.

That list can go on and on because a responsible culture pays dividends for years to come.

Aman Singh (@AmanSinghCSR) is a journalist and advisor on CSR and communication strategy.  She blogs at In Good Company: Singh on CSR.

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