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China: Officially the daddy on CSR

chinaflag1.jpgHow often have you wondered if your cheap shirt from a budget clothes store was made by a some underage, underpaid worker in a Chinese sweatshop? Greenbang is guessing if you answered yes, you’re probably not the only one. By a long shot. If you were doing the Family Fortunes ‘we asked one hundred people’ test, Greenbang guesses you’ll get some high nineties. Hey, among Joe Public, the booming Chinese economy might as well be built on blood, sweat, and tears of an exploited workforce, as well as environmental destruction on a scale that makes Amazonian loggers look like they’re not really trying.

But of course, it’s not really the case: Chinese companies now top the world league for privately held businesses adopting corporate social responsibility – or CSR to the uninitiated – policies.

The survey of 34 world economies conducted by consultants Grant Thornton found that 74 percent of all privately owned Chinese businesses have CSR strategies in place, with other developing economies making a strong play. Their findings also say that companies in these developing economies are adopting CSR to win acceptance among Western businesses and consumers.

While Grant Thornton’s research found that ‘saving the planet’ was only rated sixth in a list of reasons for these companies adopting CSR practices, environmental activities feature prominently in a list of CSR initiatives they’re undertaking.

Says Patrick Rozario of Grant Thornton:

“Obviously privately held businesses do not have the same stringent CSR regulatory requirements and investor relationship as for public listed companies to consider. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to note that
privately held businesses are adopting CSR policies not just to save the planet but because they are having to in order to survive and prosper.”

1 Comment

  • China @ Crossroads
    Posted March 19, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    I have been operating in the CSR world, in China, for the last 4 years, and while I will agree the the trend is good… The findings to me are highly suspect.

    No doubt, the issue is a hot one and awareness is at an all time high, but there are very few firms who have active “CSR” programs in place.

    Without full visibility into the report data, it is hard to pinpoint where these findings came from, but I suspect that a large portion of the firms polled were foreign invested firms operating in China… and that rather than work to find out if the “CSR” program encompassed various components.. they simply asked “do you have a CSR program?”

    If anyone from GT would like to address the details, I would be very interested to see them.



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