China businesses focus on human resources management and environmental protection in CSR practice

According to the Grant Thornton International Business Report 2011 (IBR), public opinions, tax relief, and supervisory regulations are key drivers shaping the growing awareness of social responsibility of China businesses, which concentrated most efforts in human resources management and environmental protection,.

China businesses focus on livelihood improvement and emission reduction

The survey finds that 73% of businesses cite public attitudes/brand building as a key driver. 69% of businesses consider CSR conductive to recruitment/retention of staff, and 62% say tax relief driving their ethical businesses practices.

The survey also uncovers that China businesses concentrated CSR efforts in human resources and environmental protection in last year. 84% of surveyed businesses actively promoted workforce health and well being, 78% of businesses provided internships/apprenticeships/work experience, and 74% of businesses actively promoted diversity/equality at work. In terms of saving the planet, 75% of Chinese businesses changed products/ services to reduce their environmental or social impact, 69% and 63% businesses improved energy efficiency and waste management respectively, and 39% set out to calculate their carbon footprint.

The latest finding reveals an overall improvement from 2008, with the most outstanding growth in active promotion of workforce health and well being, along with changing products/ services to reducing their environmental or social impact, both of which have posted an increase of 14%.

Xu Hua, Chairman of Grant Thornton Jingdu Tianhua, says, “Responding to the increasing social conscientiousness on CSR in public opinions and government, businesses in China are becoming more aware of adopting a proactive approach to wider corporate social responsibility issues can help them to stand out in the minds of employees, consumers and potential partners. Businesses have incorporated the guidelines of livelihood improvement as well as energy conservation and emission reduction into the practice of CSR, seeking directions from the 12th Five-Year Plan’s priorities to pursue sustainable growth in the strategic development.

Nearly half businesses reporting CSR activity

According to the survey, 42% of China businesses have ever reported CSR activity. China businesses have growingly focused on the CSR activity reporting. Statistics from a research branch of China International Centre for Economic and Technical Exchanges indicates domestic businesses issued 663 CSR reports in the first ten months of 2010, surpassing the 582 reports in 2009 and reporting a blow-out growth than 169 reports of 2008. In the meantime, China businesses’ CSR reporting accounted for approximately 15% of the global total, rising from the 5% two years ago.

Xu Hua points out, “all businesses should look closely at the potential commercial benefits of reporting their CSR activity. A competitive advantage exists for those businesses which can demonstrate leadership in implementing socially responsible and transparent practices and seize the opportunity to attract and retain skilled workers, build brand value and secure future contracts with multinationals who frequently adopt strict CSR guidelines in selecting their suppliers.”

Public opinion driving global CSR activity

Globally, businesses remain focused on the merits of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in terms of building brand, securing key staff and winning future contracts. Globally, 56% of businesses cite public attitudes/brand building and recruitment/retention of staff as the key drivers (alongside cost management) this year, highlighting the importance of public opinion in shaping businesses' CSR priorities. As businesses in mature markets continue to grapple with sluggish growth, businesses in emerging economies appear most concerned with reducing their impact on the environment: 60% of the BRIC nations and 59% of those in the ASEAN group cite saving the planet as a driver towards more ethical business practices, compared to just 30% in the EU and 27% in North America.