HK “Blind” to CSR
Thursday, 29th November 2007 at 2:12 pm
At a time when many Hong Kong enterprises are demonstrating an increasing concern for ethics and the environment, it seems they still have a long way to go to becoming good corporate citizens, according to the results of a recent survey.
The survey of attitudes toward corporate social responsibility (CSR) was jointly organised by the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education (CPCE) and the University of Hong Kong (HKU).
Based on a sample of 10,094 businesses from different sectors and of various sizes, the survey revealed that Hong Kong enterprises are largely unaware of the concept of CSR. Only 23 percent of the respondents were familiar with the term.
Pang King-chee, chairman of the CPCE, says the study focused on four dimensions of CSR: A corporation’s commitment to ethical practices, minimizing the negative impacts of its work, contributions to society and improving employees’ wellbeing.
Only 9 percent of the firms queried had systems to implement, monitor and evaluate CSR programs. Large companies were generally more aware of CSR, and companies that were aware of CSR had better CSR practices than those that were not.
Of the four areas mentioned in the survey, Hong Kong enterprises scored highest in their commitment to ethical practices. More than 80 percent of respondents said they provided accurate pricing information to customers and protected customers’ personal data.
The companies also performed well when it came to minimizing their impact on the environment, as more than 70 percent of the respondents had energy-saving policies or measures in place.
The firms did less well in the area of looking after employees. Only 65 percent kept close watch on the working environment in their facilities, and only 58 percent reviewed employees’ benefits on a regular basis.
Giving back to society ranked low on many companies’ agendas, with only 18 percent of the respondents saying they had donated money to charity in the past 12 months. Thirty-seven percent did not give any sort of assistance, such as non-monetary donations or voluntary work, to charity.
Joseph Chan, director of HKU’s Centre for Civil Society and Governance, says adopting CSR is a gradual process that can help build team spirit and enhance cost effectiveness in the long run.