Business / Companies

AmCham spreads ethical awareness

By Shi Jing in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-19 13:35

Though corporate social responsibility was essentially a concept developed in the West, it has found widespread acceptance in China with a growing number of companies and professionals embracing it whole-heartedly, according to a report published by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai earlier this month.

CSR has also developed several distinct characteristics in China and is evolving at a much faster pace than before, said the CSR Ten Year report.

There are three major factors that will govern further progress, it said.

Companies will face more pressure from consumers, governments and employees to adopt more socially responsible policies and to be more transparent about their CSR programs.

Second, public and private partnerships will continue to be enhanced as governments, NGOs and businesses become more comfortable with working together to solve some of society's more difficult issues.

Finally, as CSR grows in popularity, companies will need to find new and innovative tools to carry out CSR programs, including using social media to mobilize volunteers and publicize projects.

Benoit Vermander, a professor at the School of Philosophy in Fudan University, believes that the CSR evolution in China will hinge on two factors.

The most important trait, he said, is the overwhelming impact of government on the economy in China. This, he said, has been responsible for the growing CSR awareness among companies in the country. It is something that needs to be sustained in the long term.

The other aspect is whether economic responsibility needs to be treated as a prime social responsibility for companies because "economic construction" is the core objective for most of the governments.

Chorching Goh, lead economist focusing on China, Mongolia, and South Korea from the World Bank, said: "Although China has achieved great success in the past, policies that have worked before will not work in future. New models of urbanization need to be more efficient, inclusive and sustainable. Less industrial production, more knowledge-based services and more equal opportunities to nurture a global middle class are needed. Efforts should be focused on making cities not just great places to work in, but also to live."

Jonathan Woetzel, director of consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, said that there are various ways for companies to deal with the pressures of urbanization, including how to save energy, cut pollution and promote higher use of public facilities.

AmCham Shanghai has been very active fulfilling its CSR mission in the past decade, creating programs that invest heavily on volunteers, charitable causes and strong partnerships.

The chamber has held 176 events, attracting some 13,060 attendees and receiving more than 8 million yuan ($1.3 million) of donations.

"We are proud of our efforts over the decade to bring CSR to the forefront of business initiatives that promote sustainability, responsibility and good corporate citizenship in China. It is a milestone that should recognize the leadership, and innovation of the American business community in bettering our communities, enriching lives and improving society."

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