Commitment to CSR Requires Rethinking Recruitment Practices

by Aman Singh Das | March 02, 2011

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After Campbell Soup's VP for Talent Acquisition AnnMarie Gulian laid out how she managed to bring the HR team on board with her direction on CSR; we switched gears to a broader conversation on career advancement. Gulian touched on hiring practices, campus outreach, and her thoughts on the role education plays in furthering corporate citizenship .

Also on my agenda was how a company's mission to advance responsible business translated into strategic recruitment, if at all?

"We want people to feel a strong connection with the organization. We want them to get to know the company… we want candidates to have a rich experience. [But] you and I both know that very few candidates actually sit down and read an annual report. Secondly, the amount of paper that it uses is just astronomical. And a lot of people don't even put that in a recycling bin—they just throw it out. So from a sustainability standpoint, we said that's going against our grain."

So all prospective job candidates now get a link to an abbreviated version of the report. While getting her team to practice what they preach seems to be Gulian's objective, she isn't afraid of instilling internal accountability as well. As she explained:

"That's just one example. In talent acquisition, we understand the need to be sustainable and earth-friendly. I know that we can do things in better ways and we're trying to improve, one piece of paper at a time, one strategy at a time, one day at a time."

Measuring CSR Performance

How are Campbell's employees measured on their involvement?

Through objective performance reviews that carry a dual expectation, said Gulian. "Not only are we going to actively participate and lead in a community effort, my team members are also expected to work on increasing the sustainability of our programs."

Not only does this send a strong message across the company, measurable standards help exemplify individual achievements, which in turn, increase participation.

"For example, if you do one community external event, you meet [the standard]. If you do more than one, you exceed. If you put a program together, you can exceed," she explained. How did her team fare? "If you do at least one process on my team, you meet; but you have to do multiples and show the ROI [as well]—because of this expectation, we saved over $20,000 last year by making one small change to our mailings with FedEx," she said.

Job Interviews: Quizzing Recruiters on CSR & Sustainability

Do any of these measures—or the organization's commitment to corporate responsibility—occupy any room for discussion during her team's campus outreach efforts and job interviews?

"When we're interviewing on college campuses, CSR is very much asked about and something that candidates have a lot of interest in," she said, elaborating, "You get questions like; can you talk about CSR or sustainability? What does that mean to you? How does your organization live it?"

And these questions aren't something to gloss over, Gulian stressed. "They want true examples... They really want to know what it is that you do."

What has helped the recruitment team is constant education and fielding questions. Gulian also gave kudos to the company's CSR head Dave Stangis, for leading cross-departmental collaboration and training sessions. "What also helps is that we're big enough, yet small enough of an organization so there's always great access to our leaders," she says, adding, "Having Dave in a leadership position is incredibly important because we know exactly what we need to be doing, what we should be doing, and we always need to do a little bit more."

Job Hunting in CSR? Do Your Research

I also asked Gulian what she thought of the increasingly pervasive dialogue—especially among business school students—on job hunting specifically in CSR and sustainability. While she was quick to point out that she is seeing more interest at the undergraduate level, Gulian agreed that the market remains tough.

She also admitted that while her team doesn’t see a lot of interest from students who want to work as "finance and brand managers," CSR does come up every so often. What distinguishes the right candidate for her: Someone who brings more than just passion to the table. Back it up with research, she advises.

"Every so often, if they've truly read about our strategy, we'll get that question because it's listed and they want to test us. Now if they do that, I know that they're truly interested in Campbell's as an employer of choice, because they've really spent some time looking at us."

CSR Should Be a Part of Everyone's Job

At last year's Net Impact conference, Wal-Mart's Sustainability Director Miranda Ballentine told me that she'd rather candidates look for jobs with companies that embody corporate social responsibility than look for postings with specific CSR job titles. Wrapping up, Gulian alluded to that as well. In fact, she firmly believes that regardless of your academic leanings and professional preferences, "Corporate social responsibility and sustainability should be a part of what you do."

Calling it an imperative, she added, "I don't care if its business—every college should be offering courses in CSR, almost like every student must take classes in sociology and psychology."

Part 1: At Campbell Soup, Recruitment Drives CSR
The Complete Interview: View from the Top: When Commitment to CSR Redefines HR Practices

Filed Under: CSR

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