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More firms pay attention to social responsibility
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By He Shan
China.org.cn staff reporter

Representatives talk at the release conference of A Journey to Discover Values: Study of Sustainability Reporting in China, December 9, 2008.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is fast becoming a buzzword in China's business circles, and yesterday, research financed by Oxfam, Hong Kong published a review of China's CSR practice entitled A Journey to Discover Values: Study of Sustainability Reporting in China.

The research reviews corporate social responsibility reports issued by Chinese businesses over the last 23 months, and provides an insightful critique and perspectives on how to make the most significant social impact and reap the greatest business benefit through CSR.

In recent years, as global warming, terrorist threats and the energy crisis worsen, companies, in a broader sense, are being tasked with the social responsibility of tackling these issues.

Once reviled for supposed indifference to the environment and human rights, more and more companies are trying to recast their image in positive light by issuing CSR reports, the research found.

"There are increasing numbers of companies issuing CSR reports, but the quality of those reports leaves much to be desired," said Guo Peiyuan, general manager of SynTao, a consultancy firm that conducted the research. "Nevertheless, more and more people are paying attention to the reports."

Of the 150 reports researched from May 2007 to November 2008, half were issued by state-owned enterprises and mainly revolved around the areas of raw materials, finance, industry and energy.

"Issuing a CSR report is one thing, integrating CSR into daily business management is another thing," said Li Li, a senior researcher at the University of International Business and Economics. "If companies genuinely examined their social responsibilities using the same frameworks that guide their core business choices, they would find CSR is a source of opportunity, innovation and competitive advantage."

"The essential test that should guide corporate social responsibility is not whether a cause is worthy but whether it presents an opportunity to create mutual value," said Jia Feng, deputy director of Center for Environmental Education and Communication (CEEC) of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. "That is, a meaningful benefit for society that is also valuable to the business."

(China.org.cn December 10, 2008)

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