Some fifty Vietnamese entrepreneurs, both female and male, as well as representatives from the Embassy of Sweden in Hanoi, the Swedish Trade Council, IKEA, Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Bac Viet Steel Group shared their views on Sustainable business – a competitive advantage for Small and Medium sized enterprises.
The occasion was the seminar that the Embassy arranged in Hanoi mid-December in collaboration with Hanoi Young Business Association (HYBA) and Swedish Trade Council. The participants to the seminar all agreed that among other tools to ensure sustainable and competitive business, a well-implemented Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy is very important.
In his introductory speech, the Ambassador of Sweden in Vietnam, Mr Staffan Herrström stressed that the “Swedish model” of doing business, which is based on the idea of close cooperation between the state, employers and workers, has made Sweden a home of so many products and companies with worldwide reputation. The Ambassador said: “Sweden’s success has been built on our companies’ commitment to acting as responsible players at home as well as abroad where they are established. By doing this, in a fair way, companies have been able to continue to be competitive. Naturally, as a human being, we never want our children to live in an environment which is polluted by any company and as a customer, we never want to buy any products whose manufacture destroys our environment.”
Mr Staffan Herrström also shared with the participants the Government of Sweden’s emphasis on the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility. Sweden is strongly committed to promoting responsible corporate behaviour among Swedish-related companies abroad – and companies in Sweden.
Vietnam is a growing market and Swedish enterprises has a keen interest in investing and doing business here. According to a recent study, conducted by Swedish Trade Council, by the Swedish Trade Council among Swedish and Vietnamese manufacturing firms, Vietnam’s solid position as a manufacturing country attractive to Swedish companies was strongly underlined.
The potential for Vietnamese companies to do business with Swedish businesses and for that matter, European business is huge. But to stay competitive Vietnamese firms must continue to work hard in all aspects to strengthening its overall competitiveness. One important way of strengthening the competitiveness of Vietnamese enterprises is to embrace and implement core values such as ethics, working conditions and environmentally sustainable solutions – Corporate Social Responsibility.
IKEA came to the seminar with its experience in working with CSR with its Vietnamese suppliers. Other example of the importance of CSR was presented by Bac Viet Steel Group, who confirmed that the demands from the buyer has increased in this respect. Vietnam Chamber of Commerce (HCMC) emphasised the benefits of a well implementend CSR strategy and also explained about the support they can give.
A company that works actively with CSR will also be more attractive as an employer, thus strengthening the competition between the applicants. This also means that they will have a higher chance of attracting the best skilled labour. They certainly have a lower staff turnover and most likely a more productive labour force.