Next Week: Corporate Social Responsibility

To wrap up the semester, we will have as our guest William Anderson, the head of social and environmental affairs in Asia for Adidas. Mr Anderson will discuss corporate social responsibility and his company’s innovative CSR program. After the session with Mr Anderson, I will end the class with a short lecture to finish up the discussion we had on global governance a few weeks ago.

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7 Responses to “Next Week: Corporate Social Responsibility”


  1. 1 Veronica Cheung 20/11/2009 at 4:51 pm

    I am glad we are having him as our guest and to inspire us on the idea of corporate social responsibility. I think it is an important theory that needs to be addressed in recent years and throughout the coming decades. As globalization takes place rapidly, we could observe numerous cross-boarder working together in business, one business decision is affecting few places. Businesses bring both positve and negative externalities towards the community or other communities where business cooperations have relation and business with. If these big companies can take the lead to help solving some vital global issues like environmental issues, poverty and etc, it would give lesser burden, especially economic burden to the NGOs in solving all the problems alone. I think to grow this sense of company citizenshop towards the Earth is still lacking around the world and much more advocacy is needed.

  2. 2 Yeung Wing Sze, Connie 21/11/2009 at 10:59 pm

    There is no doubt that the corporations have the social responsibility.

    Especially for the chained stores around the world, every marketing or operating strategy can make a difference to the humanity. For example, if any one of the steps goes wrong in producing the food in a chained fastfood store, people can get food poisoning or other health problems. Positively, if a chained supermarket stops giving plastic bags to the customers, the concept of “bring your own bags” can be widely spread.

    Also, the coverage of this kind of multinational corporation in the world is so great that generates vast profit every year. It is morally understood that how much one has taken from the people, one should treat the people in a positive way in reverse. At least, to ensure the safety of the products and service and to avoid using slaves in producing the commodities.

    I hope my understanding to this topic is in the right track so far and I am looking forward to learning more of this concept.

  3. 3 Testa, Xiong Haotao 23/11/2009 at 5:38 pm

    Corporate social responsibility is an interesting topic. There is no doubt that for most corporation, interest is their first thing to concern. With the globalization of investment, production and trade, multi-national corporate locates their manufacturing factories to locations with the cheapest labor and resources. However, the set-up of factories is not a simple question of gaining profit or losing money. We should more focus on the issues of labor rights, environment protection. Further more, as different places varies from culture to language, how can the corporate really get involved in the local community? What is the corporates’ responsibility in the community building? I am quite looking forward to the coming lecture.

  4. 4 Cheung Yan Victoria 26/11/2009 at 11:25 pm

    Is corporate social responsibility a viable concept? I think it has potential to be one but much more has to be done.
    Some proponents of CSR expressed that given the degree of media globalization that we are in, business wrongdoing is much more frequently disclosed by newspapers and the Internet. Hence, more people are informed about what evils corporations might be engaged in. As businesses cannot escape public scrutiny, it prompted businesses to do good for people, or at least, do less harm to people by reducing exploitation.

    The above observation is in line with the survey conducted among senior managers in businesses shown by Mr. Anderson in his guest lecture, that while obtaining higher revenue is less a business incentive for the adoption of CSR, having a better brand reputation tops the list. We can’t deny that at the end of the day, a lot of corporations are embracing CSR only out of business interests. And when then pursuit of profit and CSR are in conflict, profits almost always wins out. Muhammad Yunus also noted in his book ‘Creating a World Without Poverty’ that some businessmen misused the concept of CSR to produce selfish benefits for their companies.

    Since 2002, the Hong Kong Council of Social Services has launched the Caring Company Scheme. In order to highlight to businesses that it is not difficult to engage in CSR, it identified 6 criteria of CSR for businesses to implement (employing vulnerable, family friendly, volunteering, partnering, mentoring, giving), businesses that fulfill any two criteria are eligible for the Caring Company award. Very predictably, most corporations earned the title of ‘Caring Company’ by engaging in the 2 easiest tasks: giving (making donations) and family friendly (providing flexible working policies like paid marriage leave). The remaining areas, which are more challenging to businesses, have much less participation. I sincerely appreciate the introduction of such a scheme because it is a positive step towards the promotion of CSR. But if business are simply using CSR as a mere window-dressing, such that while they donate a tiny portion of their profits to the needy, they think it’s fine to continue to exploit the poor to make more money, our society can’t really be improved. At the end of the day, there’s got to be a mindset change in businesses that CSR is not only a tool for publicity, and that giving back to the community is a moral obligation that they have to shoulder.

  5. 5 Kei Kit Lung 30/11/2009 at 1:03 pm

    I also agree that corporate responsibility is an interesting topic. In response to the comments of the profit-oriented nature of companies, I have some thoughts.

    It is a common ground that all businesses are money-minded enterprises. And prime facie, it seems that fulfilling social responsibility goes against that ideology. However, if we look at the issue from different perspective, we may be able to reconcile the two activities. For example, if a company is ethical, they are more likely to attract consumers who care corporate responsibility and human right protection. In the long run, it can take advantages of its enhanced reputation. In addition, if a business donates money for the betterment of the community, it will also strengthen the business-operating environment. For example, donation to university is a kind of strategy to enhance the competitiveness of Hong Kong’s labour force. A socially responsible company is also more likely to avoid infringement of the law, e.g. waste water discharge. In fact, there has been a trend for business entities to use social responsibility as their public-relationship campaigns. It is also a selling point for some companies to attract more talented employees. In the long run, it may save the advertisement costs. All of these may sound too ideal and prefect – but regardless of whether the companies are true to contribute to the community, corporate responsibility will ultimately be a mutually beneficial arrangement.

  6. 6 Senia Ng 09/12/2009 at 2:56 am

    I personally think there’s a method more effective than CSRs, which are social enterprises. They are business entities set up for pursuing a social cause, and the profits they make go back to the society for their cause.

    Compared to business entities with CSRs, more money is used in achieving their goals and they will ensure from top to bottom that they are in line with social needs.

    Business entities on the other hand, still have profits go to members first. They only leave a portion of their profits for the community.

    And when we think about Apple, their RED products are a way of carrying out CSR….But their blue,black,white,green,orange products may be carried out socially irresponsibly. This wouldn’t happen in social enterprises because in every step every stage every element of their business they are socially responsible.

    Of course, I recognize the fact that people would like to pursue business entities more for their personal interest. But when we’re talking about helping the community, I think social enterprises would be more effective.

  7. 7 James H.T. Lam 13/12/2009 at 6:59 pm

    Anderson talked about the labour dispute phenomenon and problem in China, I would like to say a few more words on this.

    Firstly, workers in China are somehow under-represented, setting up of trade unions are practically prohibited, while workers are said to be represented by the All China Federation of trade unions. The Chinese government and the ruling CCP are quite fear of newly set up organisations which might challenge their authorities and cause social unrest through mobilisation of workers.

    Moreover, indeed Chinese laws are harsh to protestors, and it is fortunate for those protested workers that they were rescued by Mr Anderson before being arrested by the authorities

    It is indeed important for China to imporve on labour rights, while a quasi governmental all China unified trade union might have more influential powers in labour poliices, it is overried by its lack of representation. Further, China has good laws on labour issues and also others, but lax enforcement and general non-observance by local governments are popular.

    It again reminds me the Putnam’s 2 level game, which domestic politics might often shape international initiatives. For labor rights in China, it si still a long way to go for china despite international treaties being in force, and the committment of CSR in China by corporations.


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