Being a first class citizen is to be a responsible, autonomous and solidary person, one who knows and practices legal rights and duties in dialogue and respect for others with a pluralist, critical and creative spirit and in reference to human rights values. This concept has to do with governmental laws but in my daily working life, I do relate it to enterprises.
This is not a legalistic article, it could not be. I write it as a citizen, it is meant to be helpful, it is structured, indicative and informative and it is my own vision of a collaborative citizenship in working environments, nevertheless, in my opinion, it may be used as guide for those who work in human resource management.
What are the rights of a business citizen?
Right to life and to personal integrity. Moral and physical integrity of people is inviolable in working places (everywhere in fact).
Right to freedom of expression and information – everyone has the right to freely express and spread their thoughts using words, images or any other means, as well as the right to inform and be informed free from constrainment or discrimination.
Right to freedom and security because all employees have the right to feel safe in their workplace.
Right to be trained. Knowledge and improvement of skills is not only a necessity, it is a legal obligation, as everyone has the right to receive the number of annual hours of training determined in the Labour Code, and in accordance with the contractual bond.
Another right is freedom of conscience, religion and worship and this is inviolable. No one may be persecuted, deprived of rights, or exempted from obligations or duties at work because of his or her beliefs or religious practice.
A working citizen’s right is the right to health, as safety and health at work is mandatory for enterprises either employing only one worker or in large Enterprises with many workers, everyone has the right to health protection and the duty to defend and promote it.
Right to Inviolability of correspondence because the secrecy of correspondence and other private means of communication are inviolable even in the workplace.
Right to use technology and the right to access computer data related to each profession or job. One can even demand amendment and updating, and is entitled to the right of knowing the purpose for which they are intended, in accordance with the law.
I don’t intend to exhaustively list all the rights that could be contemplated, namely those arising from the Labour Code in it’s strict sense, however, business citizenship goes far beyond that, far beyond what is legally implemented: being a business citizen is above all, being a person and allowing emotions, visions, missions and ambitions.
The human resources departments are aware of this fact, but will the working citizen who has a world of his own beyond the company’s standards, work in the best possible way?
There are also citizenship duties that a business citizen must carry out. First of all: to be responsible, kind, generous, disciplined, to comply with occupational health and safety standards, duty of loyalty, confidentiality, amongst others.
From my professional experience in the area of human resources and training management, there are small actions that can easily be implemented in enterprises in order to promote business citizenship. First of all, what I call internal social responsibility: internal actions for employees that contribute to their well-being not only organizational, but on personal and social level.
Using for exemples: Workshops on financial culture, basic life support, support and monitoring in psychology and coaching, offering working hours for volunteering and sponsoring institutions that business citizens would like to support, allowing them to speak out as concerning social responsibility decisions (whether internal, external, individual or collective). Always listen to what their citizen-employees have to say about their life in the enterprise!
In fact, these initiatives will enable, on the one hand, to benefit the internal and external employer branding (which is so important when in some sectors a real “talent hunt” is coming up) and, on the other hand, it will generate more and better responsibility from its employees, motivation, dedication and a sustainable and healthy human resources structure.
Investing in people is investing in business. They are the foundation of your organization and are much more than a good morning. They are unique and should be treated as such.
If you read me as a Director or Manager of an enterprise: no matter if it is a human rights-friendly enterprise a citizen enterprise, an enterprise based on values and shows that reality to its citizen-employees, clients, suppliers, etc.
If you read me as a working citizen: speak up, promote your rights, stand up for those rights to be respected, fulfill your duties and participate in the life of your organization.
Citizen enterprises are the best to work for. Be one of them!
Article Published in Linkedin on March 15, 2020.