Beijing, China: More than 450 delegates and stakeholders attended China’s largest Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) conference. The conference took place two weeks ago and was organised by CSR-Asia, a leading CSR organisation active in China and Southeast Asia.
Keynote speakers included Mr Mao Yushi, a prominent economist from China and Tang Ming, Councillor of China's State Council. According to observers the presence of Tang suggests a more positive attitude from the Chinese government to CSR, a dramatic change from its stance a few years ago.
The conference offered a first opportunity for participants to explore a unique role China can play in CSR, on top of the role it's been playing as the "world's factory." China is also one of the world's top markets for a great variety of products, from commodities, to Fast Moving Consuming Goods (such as wine, beer, clothes), to automobiles and high-tech products. Various multinationals such as Coca Cola and non-governmental organisations from China, such as the Inno Community Center, were also at the conference.
Martin Ma, China Director for Solidaridad (on the above picture holding the microphone during a panel session), introduced the Network's global activities and its overall sustainability strategy. He presented a "Compliance Plus" model to improve the impact of CSR strategies, which corporations, on top of regular compliance work concentrating on audits, can consider for building partnerships with suppliers. This is meant to encourage shared responsibility on continuous improvement of social and environmental performance.
The “Compliance Plus” model covers the following:
- Compliance only is not enough, buyers need to consider making joint efforts with suppliers to share common responsibility of promoting sustainable development
- Buyers at least should offer efficient capacity building programs for suppliers, so that they understand how to meet buyers' requirements incrementally
- Compliance tends to focus on a snap shot reporting on what's the current status with regards to social performance, but more attention should be paid to measuring progress made by suppliers.
“Considering that China is a key market, corporations can begin to work out strategies to respond to increasing demand on responsibility and sustainability from not only consumers in the North, but also consumers from the emergent markets such as China,” says Ma.