New CSR report raises controversy

08:15, December 22, 2009      

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State-owned enterprises perform better than private and multinational companies in corporate social responsibility (CSR), according to a report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) Sunday, but analysts registered doubts as to the report's methodology and results.

The report includes 100 top State-owned companies, 100 top private companies and 100 top multinational companies. The 300 companies were evaluated for their responsibility management, market responsibility, social responsibility and environmental responsibility. CASS compiled its report on the basis of information released by the companies, including their CSR and annual reports.

On a scale of 100 points, the 300 companies in the report averaged 20.2 points. State-owned companies averaged 30.6 points, while private companies only averaged 17.9 points.

"These indexes mean that most companies' CSR level is still low and their CSR development is at a preliminary stage," said Zhong Hongwu, director of the Research Center for CSR at CASS.

Among 300 companies, only 14 companies got over 60 points, including 12 State-owned companies such as State Grid Corporation of China, China Datang Corporation and China National Petroleum Corporation, as well as two private companies, Legend Holdings and Ping An Insurance, the report said.

A total of 179 companies received below 20 points, including 79 multinational companies. Sportswear giants Adidas, Nike and IT giant Microsoft got the lowest points of the 300 companies.

Zhong, who helped compile the report, said multinational companies seldom release information on their CSR situations in China, and that's the main reason they lag behind Chinese companies.

"A total of 10 multinational companies do not have Chinese version websites, and 12 multinational companies have not released any information on their CSR situations on their websites," Zhong added.

"I'm not sure how CASS compiled the report, but Walmart always focuses on CSR by conducting energy savings, protecting the environment and doing charity work," said Huang Li, a communications manager for Walmart. The retail giant got 24 points in the report.

Li added that the company's website includes a section detailing its social responsibility efforts.

"The report does not reflect the real situation of CSR in China, because it focuses on companies' own sayings rather than their performance," said Li Youhuan, a researcher at the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, who has studied CSR for more than a decade.

"In our study of companies in the Pearl River Delta areas, multinational companies perform better than State-owned companies and private companies in CSR," Li said.

In November, PricewaterhouseCoopers also expressed doubts on the credibility of more than 600 Chinese companies' CSR reports, saying there was a considerable discrepancy between what the companies wrote in their reports and what they actually did.

Source: Global Times
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