Business / Economy

Panel to gauge Shanghai-listed enterprises' commitment

By WU YIYAO (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-24 11:25

Shanghai has launched a six-month study into the corporate social responsibility commitment of its 206 listed companies.

Organizations will be evaluated on their contribution to economic development, environmental protection and social commitment, on a scale of one to five, by a committee made of stock exchange supervisors, social scientists and securities regulators.

The results of the research will be published in a CSR bluebook, or guide, in June 2015.

Zhou Zehong, secretary-general of the Listed Companies Association in Shanghai, said the survey will help strengthen the CSR awareness of companies, encourage them to further develop their capabilities, and enhance their input into wider CSR initiatives.

Zhou said the association has included CSR courses in training programs for specialists working for listed companies, and has organized events to "bring them closer to social issues that need to be addressed".

He highlighted initiatives such as carbon trading and environmental protection, which have already enabled the listed companies to learn what can be achieved through a commitment to CSR, and what might be developed in the future.

Zhong Hongwu, director of the Research Center for Corporate Social Responsibility at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that CSR projects are no longer considered by listed companies as publicity tools or something that can be traded for higher profits, adding that if companies do not commit to CSR, they cannot expect to succeed in the long run.

"Both investors and capital markets now require better transparency of companies' management of CSR, and enterprises themselves need to appreciate the risks of not adhering to the principle of doing good for society as a whole," said Zhong.

In 2006, Chinese CSR reports accounted for just 0.1 percent of the world's total. But that had jumped to 14 percent in 2014.

Xu Ming, deputy managing director of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, said that long-term commitment in CSR is not only good for individual companies, but also Shanghai's position as one of the world's leading financial centers.

"Since the launch of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, the city is further exposed to global markets and international investors. Higher-quality CSR management is very important to the growth of Shanghai as a capital market, and it will also help it become more appealing to investors," said Xu.

Although many of Shanghai's listed companies have taken steps toward executing and disclosing their CSR initiatives, they still need to improve, said Xu.

He described some reports as "full of empty talk", with data that are inconsistent with their financial reports, and others as simply "not creditable".

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