Cornell University

Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies

193 Ives Faculty Building, 607-255-9358

2004 White Papers

HR & Sustainability


Human Resource Management & Sustainability

Internal and external pressures are forcing business to pay greater attention to social and environmental concerns. In response, organizations' sustainability goals are transitioning into strategic action plans. It is often the role of HRM to help organizations realize the potential of corporate sustainability, and then position themselves as an internal driver of sustainable business practices. This paper will examine the drivers of corporate philanthropy for the organization making the business case for engaging in a sustainability agenda. This will be followed by a discussion of the important resources the Human Resource Management function provides for the organization in terms of sustainability objectives.

Business Strategy and Sustainable Development

This paper looks at business strategies for creating a sustainable global enterprise. It includes a discussion of the competing lines of thought around sustainability, the sustainable value framework, a section on the importance of engaging fringe stakeholders, a description of the "fortune" at the bottom of the pyramid, some mini-case studies of different approaches to sustainability, a summary of the
results from the CAHRS survey on sustainability, and an update on business education and sustainability.

Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting

Sustainability reporting is quickly becoming a new trend among corporations, with most growth in reporting occurring in the last decade. Although many external and internal drivers are pushing the need for sustainability reporting, most companies are publishing reports either due to the demands of various stakeholder groups or the desire to be proactive against economic, environmental, or social risks. Trust and credibility are essential for the reputation of contemporary corporations, making transparency, accountability, and verification central issues to sustainability reporting. Many global indicators for sustainability are typically included in sustainability reports. Suggested methods for reporting processes and frameworks are examined, including triple bottom line, lifecycle analysis, maintaining a positive image, establishing stakeholder dialogue, and business case reporting. The Global Reporting Initiative is discussed as the most widely used framework and guidelines for sustainability reporting. Finally, various best practices for different reporting mediums and topics are listed. The appendices contain a variety of tools for both novice and experienced corporations to use in devising a sustainability report.

Economics of Sustainable Development

In a world of limited resources and tight budgets, it is necessary for corporations to make informed trade¬offs between costs and benefits. The purpose of the paper is provide an overview of the different kinds of costs and benefits that corporations incur when they undertake sustainable development initiatives. It is hoped that this information will help corporations be more aware of the costs and benefits associated with sustainability initiatives, so that they can choose initiatives that maximize positive impacts and contributions to the community. Also, it is important that corporations focus on value rather than pure costs and benefits when making their budget decisions. This approach will enable them to develop business processes and set priorities based on the context of the company's needs and strategy. In addition, they will be able to exercise different options in the face of uncertainty, and balance the potential impact on shareholder value with the sustainability issues at hand.

HIV/AIDS, Business & Sustainability

Continued growth of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is forcing business to acknowledge the potential costs of the   disease to their organization and develop strategies to combat its influence. As a conduit between the workforce and management, HRM directly influences business response to HIV/AIDS and will be a key player in formulating future responses to the epidemic. This paper will discuss the link between HIV/AIDS and sustainable business practices, explore the macroeconomic and microeconomic impacts of HIV/AIDS on business, and finally discuss how businesses are responding to the epidemic.

Embedding Social Responsibility into the Corporate Culture

Given the growing public interest and concern regarding the sustainability of communities, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been transformed from a choice to an imperative. Hence, CSR needs to be a part of the company's corporate culture, where there are company-wide efforts to integrate environmental, economic and social considerations into every aspect of the company's business practices. This paper covers the five key elements that should be addressed in order to indoctrinate such a complex change effort within an organization's culture and business practices; Leadership vision and commitment, Internal skills and tools, Incentives and Employee buy-in, Adequate resources, and Action Plan. It also addresses the challenges of CSR implementation and the implications of CSR to Human Resource Management.