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CSR reporting in the new era


On December 5, the 12th International Conference on CSR Reporting in China was held in Shanghai.

Focusing on “CSR Communication Creates Value”, guest speakers shared new thoughts on CSR reporting, new practice trends, and hot topics of information disclosure and CSR communication with attendees. The Release Ceremony of GoldenBee CSR Report Honor Roll 2019 and “Art for a Sustainable Future” Initiative and Art Exhibition were also launched.

The conference was hosted by China Sustainability Tribune and China Business Council for Sustainable Development (CBCSD), and co-hosted by the CSR Centre at Embassy of Sweden in Beijing.

New requirements for high-quality development
As the international community accelerates the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and China promotes the high-quality economic development, CSR has more far-reaching implications. The new trend has endowed new requirements for CSR information disclosure.
Anders Wollter, Minister Counsellor and Head of CSR Centre, the Embassy of Sweden in Beijing, introduced CSR information disclosure in Sweden, and emphasized that companies need to establish credibility with transparency and communication, and adopt innovative business models and high-quality CSR information disclosure to address global challenges.
Xu Hua, Director, General Office, Department of Policies, Laws and Regulations, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), said that the social responsibility report is a very effective communication tool between enterprises and stakeholders, and the corporate transparency is also a general trend. It is hoped that enterprises can leverage their own industrial advantages to release CSR reports and further promotes the sustainable industrial development.

Zhai Qi, Executive Secretary General of China Business Council for Sustainable Development (CBCSD), said that, in the new era, the CSR reporting preparation has gradually changed from a single CSR information disclosure tool to an important channel and bond that is concerned by stakeholders and integrated non-financial information disclosure, corporate brand image publicity, ESG risk management, corporate sustainable development performance display, and third-party certification and evaluation. This puts forward higher requirements for high-quality and sustainable development of enterprises.

CSR reporting prospects
As a tool and carrier that reflects the comprehensive economic, social, and environmental values of enterprises, CSR reports/sustainability reports have developed rapidly in recent years.
GoldenBee Research on Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting in China 2019 and ESG Index Management and ESG Disclosure Guide were released.
According to the statistics revealed in GoldenBee Research on Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting in China 2019 (hereafter referred to as “the Report”), by October 2019, the number of social responsibility reports released in China had reached 1,993, of which 1,912 were from enterprises.

Based on the research methodology used in GoldenBee Research on Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting in China 2017, GoldenBee (Beijing) Management Consulting Co., Ltd. (hereafter referred to GoldenBee) has conducted a systematic analysis of 1,598 CSR reports collected in China and compiled the Report to summarize the findings on CSR reporting in China:
• The report numbers has a substantial growth year on year and the comprehensive index has been maintained at around 1,300. The report quality increases slightly, and the proportion of ESG reports hits a new high.
• There is high information disclosure rate for stakeholders such as the government, employees, the environment, communities, and customers;

• Reports of Central SOE have maintained leading quality, and the report quality of private enterprises, foreign-invested and Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan enterprises shows significant improvement;

• The number of reports released by Fortune Global 500 companies in China and top 500 Chinese companies has returned to a high point, and the quality of their reports is significantly higher than the average CSR reporting level in China.
Responding to the findings, the Report suggests to encourage all top 500 Chinese companies to prepare CSR reporting, and hopes to strengthen the guidance for listed companies on social responsibility information disclosure; establish a market mechanism that encourages enterprises to disclose high-quality social responsibility information; enhance the materiality, credibility and comparability of the reports; strengthen information disclosure of CSR management and give full play to the advantageous role of social responsibility reporting as an international “language”.

This conference continues the tradition of internationalization. The latest progress of the CSR information disclosure in Europe, India, Japan, and the Netherlands, indicates that the legalization and standardization of social responsibility development, the responsible business practices, the quality improvement of information disclosure and joint efforts of stakeholders for a good environment of information disclosure is becoming the common direction.

Heated discussion of information disclosure
As a professional communication platform for CSR reporting, the conference has continued the feature of professionalism, focusing on hotspot issues of CSR reporting such as information disclosure, CSR report communication, etc., which brings about new thoughts and references for enhancing CSR reporting quality in the future.
Regardless of Chinese enterprises or foreign-funded enterprises, the role of cross-cultural integration in the stakeholder communication has become increasingly prominent during enterprises’ transnational operations. In the Panel “Role of Cross-cultural Integration in Stakeholder Communication”, guest speakers discussed the significance, new requirements, new practices, as well as the values and impacts of information disclosure by multinational companies.
More and more investors have included the ESG governance level into their investment considerations, and ESG disclosure has also become a topic of most concern in the capital market today. The Panel “ESG Disclosure and Responsible Investment” focused on the opportunities and challenges brought by the international trend “responsible investment” for Chinese companies, and discussed the value of ESG information, especially the impact on the capital market, and how should Chinese companies adapt to the international discourse system during the process of ESG disclosure.
2019 is a crucial year for China to fight poverty and is also a decisive moment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal “End poverty” a decade earlier. The Panel “Information Dissemination and Achievements Sharing of Targeted Poverty Alleviation Practices” targeted at the accurate dissemination that can facilitate more people to learn the concepts, advanced practices and successful experiences of targeted poverty alleviation and better reflect the values of targeted poverty alleviation.
Accurate CSR communication creates a more sustainable brand for the enterprise. The Panel “CSR Communication, Beauty of Diversity” discussed the approaches to integrating the modes of dissemination of corporate brand public relations, marketing, public welfare, and culture. By integrating internal and external communication resources, the multi-dimensional social issues and CSR image can be shown in various forms of dissemination, which helps comprehensively enhance the public’s awareness of the value of corporate sustainable brands.
Models of CSR reports
During the Release Ceremony of GoldenBee CSR Report Honor Roll 2019, 90 enterprises stood out from nearly 1,600 candidates to be listed in the honor roll for “Leading Enterprise”, “Growing Enterprise”, “Foreign-Invested and Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan-Invested Enterprise”, “First Time Report Award”, “Special CSR Report Awards”, and “Evergreen Award”.   

In order to identify and encourage better CSR reports in China, since 2009, China Sustainability Tribune (formerly known as China WTO Tribune) has released research reports on the overall development situation of CSR reporting in China for 11 consecutive years.

Up to now, over 13,000 reports have registered for the evaluation and more than 600 CSR reports released by over 300 enterprises have been listed in the “GoldenBee CSR Report Honor Roll”. The event has provided a professional platform for brilliant enterprises and outstanding CSR reports to manifest their advantages, and also indicates the increasing number and quality of outstanding CSR reports in China. More enterprises rank top in fulfilling social responsibility.

As one of the earliest international events on CSR reporting in China, for 12 years, the conference  has released the GoldenBee Research Report on CSR Reporting in China for many years, and has discussed the trends and hot topics of CSR reports, such as reporting standards, preparation, management, and dissemination, witnessing and promoting the CSR reporting to be more standardized, transparent, and diversified. It also plays a positive role for enhancing corporate transparency, improving the level of information disclosure and innovating in stakeholder communication.
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