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CSR Growing in Importance

BritCham / CBBC
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The CSR Forum meeting

CSR used to be a relatively peripheral interest in companies.  However, since the global recession in 2008 and general acknowledgement of the impact of climate change, Government, Corporate and Personal Social Responsibility is now core to the message of any company. Businesses increasingly look like NGOs in their mission statements; e.g. BP, "Beyond Petroleum" or Standard Chartered's "here for good" and NGOs increasingly look like Governments or companies in terms of their global coverage, professionalism and efficiency. 

If the last century was about making money rapaciously this century is going to be about sharing wealth equitably.  China reflects this new reality in its 12th Five Year plan, the key focus of which is sharing the prosperity of the rich eastern seaboard with the more remote western regions such as Chongqing, Chengdu and Xinjiang.  The UK acknowledges the shift in the words of David Cameron when he addressed students in Shanghai in 2011: "we need to recognize the connection between responsibility and leadership." 

The US also embraces the change. When John Chambers, Chairman of CISCO was asked what countries needed to do to solve economic and social issues he replied "to integrate the work of NGOs into national developments strategies". Speaking about solutions to issues that will impact us all he gave the example of how Brazil is tackling deforestation (Bloomberg Businessweek, June 17 - 23, 2013):"Everybody from right to left, from government to the private sector to the NGOs. They were all sitting around tables talking respectfully to each other about what to do about this problem. We all have to do more of this to tackle increasingly complex and interconnected  problems."

This is exactly what we did at or recent CSR forum at the British Chamber. Companies such as PWC, Beijing Royal School and DLA Piper spoke respectfully with NGOs such as WSPA and World Food Program and government representatives such as Wang Liwei and China Daily about how to solve the social issues facing China today.  Wang Liwei (CEO Charitarian and honoree vice-mayor of Guanxian County) provided detailed analysis of the opportunities and challenges under the Government's four key areas of focus namely:

1) East to West

2) Urbanisation

3) production to consumption; and

4) resolution of social issues.

Clareta Chia from Verizon, Hong Kong and Richard Wageman of DLA Piper gave an update on what they had experienced regarding the development of NGOs in China.  Clare Pearson covered case studies of successful CSR programs in China from SSP International, Nord Anglia and BMW Foundation. A media interview with Ethical Performance Magazine and Q&A went on so long that we had to continue on the subway. The CSR forum in a confluence of enlightened individuals "from government, NGOs and the private sector tackling increasingly complex and interconnected problems."  If you want to join us to learn how to make the connection between "responsibility and leadership" please sign up online for the next forum or contact clare.pearson@dlapiper.com

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