Report points to vast increase in Shanghai-listed companies actively promoting their programs
Just over one-third of companies listed at the Shanghai Stock Exchange chose to publicize their social responsibility reports
The study, by the Research Center for Corporate Responsibility at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, polled 205 Shanghai-listed firms over the past year, finding 68 chose to publish their CSR activities, within their annual results, or through dedicated reports.
The report measured their commitment to CSR by content, clarity and consistency, and showed a vast increase in the number of those actively promoting their projects.
It said fewer than 10 companies issued CSR reports a decade ago, and fewer than 50 five years ago.
Commenting on the findings, Han Shaoping, deputy head of the China Securities Regulatory Commission's Shanghai bureau, said that CSR disclosure has become an important part of any companies' commitment to its shareholders and also to the communities in which it operates.
Han said it has also become a significant part of corporate disclosure and investor protection, allowing the stock market to become more transparent.
"In the future, the authorities and enterprises will push forward the development of CSR practices and disclosure," said Han.
Zhong Hongwu, head of the research center that carried out the work, said, however, that just as much effort has to be attached to social well-being and the interests of employees, as it is to deliver shareholder returns.
Zhong also said some companies still fail to make systematic records of what they have done, and lack awareness of how best to communicate their commitment.
"On the positive side, companies have been realizing that CSR means more than just making charitable donations or holding philanthropic events," said Zhong.
"The variety of CSR-related deeds and the types of people benefiting have also been increasing.
"However, companies need to improve their ability to manage, plan and execute their CSR programs to compete with domestic and global peers."
The findings also revealed 130 Shanghai-listed companies have never released CSR reports, and among the 68 that have, just 12 included third-party evaluations of their efforts and only five offered what could be considered "detailed, comprehensive" reports of more than 100 pages.
Su Yong, the dean of enterprise management at Fudan University in Shanghai, said that as more multinationals start operating in China, and more Chinese enterprise go global, they will both need to communicate their CSR abilities and efforts better, particularly in areas such as employee welfare and environment protection.
(China Daily USA 02/10/2016 page14)