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Críticas: I've been following Elaine's work for a while, mostly through her Twitter account - @ElaineCohen - and by attending a couple of virtual events on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) where she was a speaker. So when her book was recently published I didn't miss the opportunity to read it. ... CSR for HR is a very meaningful book by a knowledgeable author whose effective storytelling provides the compelling evidence that "a partnership" - between HR and CSR - is needed to advance "responsible business practices". Although the Author has included few fictional characters to support her point, the situations, comments and people described in the book are absolutely realistic and will sound familiar to most of the readers. Along with those fictional characters, Elaine Cohen mentions and quotes some of the most well-known experts working in the fields of HR, CSR and Sustainability such as Julie Urlaub of Taiga Company, Chris Jarvis of Realized Worth or Cathy Joseph. Finally, it's nice to see that the Author has managed to stay away from any technical jargon and smartly uses humor and anecdotes all along the narrative. ... The book, as the author puts it, is a "wake up call" for the HR profession and a toolkit to help members of that profession becoming Corporate Social Human Resources (CSHR) Manager. It's also a perfect introduction to CSR and sustainability for anyone willing to develop their understanding of those concepts through concrete examples and support the advance of "responsible business practices". However, for HR professionals, Elaine's book is much more than an introduction: it's a practical guide for designing and conducting specific actions that aim to build CSR credibility, which is, as the book points out, "dependent on delivery and not on rhetoric." The book describes a comprehensive range of actions that HR professionals can take to deliver sound CSR results, from Ethics, Human Rights, Employee engagement and reward to Green Teams and Volunteering Programs. For each of those topics, the Author offers real life examples, thoroughly presented, including useful facts and links for who'd like to get into further details. But the book should not be seen as a manual or a recipe book only. It highlights, in my opinion, something critical: what is essential is the process of building a sustainability strategy and defining the CSR activities that support it. Simply copying what others are doing is not an option, for the strategy, to be successful, must be authentic, not driven by PR considerations and therefore developed by each company based on their particular internal and external situations. However, there's no need to "reinvent the wheel", as the achievements of the pioneers and practitioners in this field constitute a solid set of references for HR professionals who understand that, not only CSR is "here to stay", but is an essential part of their job. The Author demonstrates through the book that cooperation and teamwork, both internal and external, are key in order to build a successful CSR roadmap and that what matters, as Arena tells Sharon, are "small steps and small wins". Yesterday I met up with my friend Victoria, a young and talented HR manager, working with a multinational IT company and I asked her what she knew about Corporate Social Responsibility and if it was part of her role and responsibilities. She, almost literally, answered: "I have to admit that I don't know what corporate social responsibility involves. I'm not sure why it's important." We enjoyed our Cookie Dough ice cream, chatting about other topics, before having a walk along the sea in Barcelona. When I went back home I ordered a copy of CSR for HR. It will be the perfect Christmas gift for Victoria and, hopefully, the beginning of a great journey! Aequology's Blog, 12 December 2010 What Cohen offers is a detailed execution plan on how to embed CSR into the way of managing people. And since this is contrary to the majority of business practices, she lets us watch as a manager, Sharon, goes through the discovery process of how much more powerful and even efficient this is, than the fragmented programmatic method. She is engaged by Arena, who serves as the Socratic teacher and coach in Sharon's discovery. This allows Cohen to unfold a little at a time, of the changes necessary to shift to the integrated approach, which we eventually will come to see as much simpler ... What we get is an introduction to a different kind of workplace where dialogue and engagement form the basis of decision making, all necessary to employees taking more CSR responsibility into their daily lives ...You really get the feeling of what it would be like to see CSR from the shoes of a fully engaged employee. ... In addition to the philosophical and practical foundation for her recommendations in new practices, Cohen provides a roadmap for the new infrastructure that will be necessary to connect employees with stakeholders in a this more direct and integrated way and a roadmap to build a plan. And the of stories of real companies that are woven in to the manager's learning experience, ones who have taken on the new infrastructure and practices offered, gives us more confidence, that this is not all hypothetical. ... The workbook that has been laid out through the book, gives an easy way to review the how-to but with the story still in our mind. Somehow the story telling mode makes it feel more doable. Full review See also an interview with Elaine Cohen on the same blog Carol Sanford blog, 1 December 2010 ... the book is a persuasive argument for connecting CSR with a company's human resources function. Having spent over 20 years in senior leadership positions with companies like Procter & Gamble and Unilever, Cohen's narratives come from experience ... Cohen's 300-page missive then comes as a bible of sorts. Written in a conversational manner -- which lends itself to an easy read on an otherwise weighty topic -- the book follows two accomplished HR professionals who clearly love their jobs. The difference: Sharon Black sees her job as a strictly people management function (recruitment, compensation, benefits, training, etc.) while Arena Dardelle defines human resources as a vital driver of the company's long-term sustainability. By the way, both Sharon and Arena are fictional characters. How do the two align? This is where the true value of the book lies. Chapter by chapter, Cohen examines how functionalities like employee welfare, organizational development, compensation, benefits, training, recruitment and retention, diversity and inclusion, and even employee rights -- long considered traditional HR duties first to be dispensed with in a recession, budget-constrained and full of regulatory jargon -- tie into a company's lifecycle, strengthen its brand and guarantee long-term stability. Her use of numerous case studies like The Body Shop, GE's ecomagination, Gap, Nike, Microsoft, Patagonia, Timberland and many others, peppered throughout the pages, further add a quotient of practical realism. ... This gem will sit on my desk not only as an indispensable reference tool, but also as a constant reminder that a wealth of innovation remains untouched, just an arm's length away. Full review -- Aman Singh, Vault.com, CSRwire, 15 November 2010 CSR FOR HR or HR FOR CSR - a Win Win For Everybody Reading CSR for HR by Elaine Cohen has successfully answered some key questions that have I been chewing over in my head ... this book was an eye opener for me... ... And while "the intended audience is anyone practising, teaching, learning, aspiring to be in the HR function", I see value in expanded the audience to include anyone practicing, or aspiring to be in the CSR function as well. ... Yes, Elaine Cohen's book is a must read for anyone in HR function of any sized organization, and let's not forget for CSR practitioners too. Full review -- Lalia Helmer, Business that Cares blog A book that brings CSR to life Elaine Cohen has been a powerful voice in the corporate social responsibility and sustainability movement for many years. Turns out she also has a secret aptitude for fiction. That could be a rather sarcastic start to a review of her new book CSR for HR. Except that this is an overt work of fiction, and a rather jolly one at that. We follow the story of Sharon, a fictional HR director who sets out on a journey of CSR discovery. This is a fantastic ploy to entertain the knowledgeable, while filling in the gaps for the new entrants to CSR. Sharon delves into the definitions of CSR, learns from the real-life achievements of Body Shop, Gap, Nike, Microsoft, Ben and Jerry's, Google and energy company Vattenfall. The book is stuffed with mini-articles, models, a road map to get started and interviews between Sharon and real leaders in CSR. Recruitment, compensation, training, employee communications, employee well-being, health and safety, employee rights, community involvement and environmental impact are all covered. The HR discipline doesn't trip up Cohen's argument and she seems as competent in the issues (and frustrations) of HR professionals as I've known her to be in CSR. My favourite chapter is set during a conference that Sharon attends early in her journey. The facilitator (who I suspect is a barely disguised avatar of the author) opens with some provocative questions, such as: "There is no such thing as a work-life balance" and "Would you die to work?" The session is a watershed for Sharon as she begins to realise the huge implications of CSR for age-old HR issues. One of the conclusions from the conference is that "human resource managers have a responsibility to change the system". I agree wholeheartedly, but this does highlight my one criticism of this story. Sharon the HR director does all the learning, and not much HR wisdom passes the other way to CSR. Perhaps the next story could be HR for CSR, following the journey of a CSR director learning what the HR discipline can teach us on sustainability. Nevertheless, this is a must-read for HR professionals, students and those interested in holistic management. It's rare to find a business book where you learn as much from the protagoni...
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