Corporate responsibility (CR) is about the impact an organisation makes on society, the environment and the economy. Having an effective CR programme contributes positively to all stakeholders as well as adding value for the organisation itself, and ensures it operates in a sustainable way. It is separate from environmental, social and governance (ESG), which is more about how investors see the company.

This factsheet discusses why corporate responsibility matters, and highlights HR’s role in putting it into action. Factors and mechanisms influencing corporate responsibility include legal and voluntary measures, partnerships with external agencies, and social and environmental reporting. The factsheet also outlines current debates on corporate responsibility, examining both its proponents and opponents. It ends with guidelines for introducing a corporate responsibility strategy which apply especially to employers and people professionals.

This factsheet was last updated by Susannah Haan, Senior Corporate Governance Adviser, CIPD

Susannah leads CIPD’s work on corporate governance and responsible business, including the role of HR in ESG, workforce reporting, leadership development and the role of non-executive directors. 

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