Swedish Embassy Beijing and CSR Asia China study looks at the development for CSR

The Swedish Embassy, Beijing, in collaboration with CSR Asia in China has released a comprehensive CSR study, showing an increased awareness for CSR, and that weak enforcement of legislation is the biggest obstacle to its widening.

Driven by the efforts of different stakeholders to promote more responsible business practices, the efforts of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in China have grown steadily over the past decade.

Presentations were held during the spring for Swedish Chambers of Commerce in Beijiing and Hong Kong, where Ms. Maisoun Jabali, Head of CSR Centre and Centec at the Swedish embassy presented the result from ‘Corporate Social Responsibility Development and Trends in China’.

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“It was interesting to see that the study showed an increased awareness on CSR, and that this increased awareness is primarily attributed to the openness of the market,” said Maisoun Jabali.

Approximately 82 per cent of the respondents to the study are not satisfied with the current state of CSR development in China.

Presentations were held during the spring for Swedish Chambers of Commerce in Beijiing and Hong Kong, where Ms. Maisoun Jabali, Head of CSR Centre and Centec at the Swedish embassy presented the result from ‘Corporate Social Responsibility Development and Trends in China’.

CSR is better developed in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou with many multinational companies and headquarters of Chinese enterprises, as well as Eastern and Southern China. Chinese companies involved in international supply chains were the first to introduce CSR practices.

The study shows that a common opinion is that there is a solid framework of both labour and environmental legislation, but it is poorly enforced. At the same time the study shows that compliance with legislations and regulations is perceived as the most important incentive for companies to implement CSR.

“The conclusion is that the relevant authorities has a great role to play in how guidelines and regulations are implemented,” said Ms. Jabali.

The fact with an increasing difficulty in finding and retaining workers, labour practices is an area where the companies generally have improved the most, much because of higher levels of compliance with labour polices.

The environmental performance of companies is ranked among the least addressed issues, despite the fact that pollution is a major concern and has received much attention in the past two years.

Overall, the findings of the study indicate that the understanding and implementation of CSR is considered unsatisfactory and still largely limited to philanthropy and acts of charity.

“If you only focus on charity work, it limits efforts to make more structural changes with long-term effects,” says Ms. Jabali.

CompostingAt the same time the study shows that there is confidence in the future of CSR in China, and that regional differences will continue to shrink. Environmental issues and labour practices will become the most pressing CSR issues for enterprises to deal with over the next decade. Transparency, corruption prevention and ethical behaviour are other areas expected to gain in importance.

It is believed the government will remain the key driver onwards but the private sector will become more proactive.

About CSR Centre
The mission of the Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of the Embassy of Sweden in Beijing is identify and address challenges for companies in implementing CSR.

Positioned at the core of Sino-Swedish CSR relations, the CSR Centre closely follows Sino-Swedish CSR developments. In collaboration with its network of partners, the Centre maps CSR trends and tools based on research studies and dialogues with various stakeholders.

Collaboration with Chinese, Swedish and international partners transforms knowledge into policy development and change in company management. Through dialogues between authorities, companies and other stakeholders, the CSR Centre promotes Sino-Swedish exchange in the field of CSR.

CSR knowledge is communicated through training programmes, conferences, websites and media. The main target groups are companies and organisations seeking knowledge and information exchange on the concept of CSR and how to implement it.

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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