At this month's Sustainable Business Breakfast (SBB), Kathryn Barker, previously Head of Corporate Responsibility (CR) at Severn Trent Plc, spoke about the importance of incorporating CR into an overall business strategy and the part played by those at the top to instill a culture of CR throughout the organisation.
Stakeholder engagement once again became a central discussion point, particularly focusing on employee attitudes towards and ownership of top-level CR strategies. The question is: how does an organisation prevent CR from becoming a bolt-on, defensive strategy and where do employees fit in?
A recent article in the Guardian echoes this question, exploring the role of employees in contributing to the sustainability agenda. The article argues that the engagement of employees is vital in the success of this agenda and the necessary prerequisite is a values-based culture.
At the SBB, Kathryn explained that encouraging this culture requires employers to engage not only with employees, but with their values as well. Rather than leaving them at the door when they come to work, these values can form the core of a CR strategy that is embedded at the heart of the organisation. The emphasis again is on engaging with these key stakeholders from the outset, ensuring they are a central element of any strategic decisions.