Connecting, Nurturing, Creating for Sustainable Environment

Corporate Social Responsibility

I. Recognized guiding principles and management standards

The rapidly growing of the concept of corporate sustainability has led to the emergence of numerous guiding principles, codes, charters, frameworks and management standards, which are intended to provide robustness and consistency to a particular area of performance based on emerging expectations and consensus among practitioners and society at large. Here are some principles, charters, guidelines, and management standards established by international and local organizations. Businesses can choose to adopt or use them as reference when developing their own:

Guiding Principles – International

More SD-related principles can be found at International Institute for Sustainable Development

Guiding Principles – Hong Kong

Internationally-recognized non-industry specific management standards

II. Monitoring and benchmarking

The key to improvement is to identify and establish measurable goals and then work towards it. By monitoring its performance, businesses can see where they started, and how much progress has been made. Meanwhile, benchmarking – the process of comparing a company internal progress against the best practice within the industry or other standards, allows businesses to identify the area of improvement. Companies can also benchmark internally by tracking and comparing current performance with past performance.

Some useful tools for monitoring your performance:

Participating in awards is another kind of benchmarking which allows participating company to have an opportunity to go through a self assessment and compare its performance against the award criteria and the performance of other participants.

Award Programmes (Hong Kong):

Award Programmes (International):

III. Transparency and reporting

Reporting is an effective way to communicate performance and achievement. With increasing focus on CSR performance, companies must now operate in greater transparency and consider disclosing more information on their social and environmental performance to customers, investors, and a wide range of other stakeholders. As a result, a growing number of companies are sharing information and issuing reports describing the economic, environmental, and social impacts of their operations.

Here are some guidelines for corporate environmental, social and sustainability reporting:

Here are some directories of corporate environmental, social and sustainability reports


IV. Environmental management and Environmental Management System (EMS)


Environmental management is the management of the humankind’s interaction with and impact upon the environment and it has become a core business issue in the overall management of many organizations. Being an environmentally responsible company brings the following benefits to your organization:

  • Reduced environmental risk and liability
  • Assurance of legal compliance
  • Financial savings
  • Improved company image
  • Increased competitiveness
  • Fulfilling customers’ environmental requirements
  • Enhanced employee environmental awareness and morale
  • Continual environmental improvement

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a systematic approach for organizations to bring environmental considerations into decision making and day-to-day operations. The EMS process follows the common management principle of ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’, which includes the following elements: commitment and policy, planning, implementation, measurement and evaluation, review and improvement. An EMS helps ensure that major environmental risks and liabilities are identified, and managed.

Useful information:


V. Sustainable purchasing

Sustainable purchasing is the application of sustainable development principles to procurement of products and services, by addressing of environmental and social factors, as well as the total costs associated with each purchase. There is a wide range of approaches to sustainable purchasing which can be applied at all stages of the purchasing process. These include:

  • Look for products and services that are socially acceptable and also with good environmental performance, e.g. products with eco-labels or fair trade labels
  • Buying from companies that are concerned about their social and environmental performance, e.g. ISO 14001, SA 8000 and OHSA 18001 certified companies or business with good human right records
  • Considering long-term social, environmental, and economic impacts by a life-cycle cost analysis when specifying what to purchase

Useful source of information:

Product/service labels, directories, standards

Sustainable purchasing standards

VI. Green products

With the rise of green consumerism, local and overseas consumers are now more concerned about the environmental impacts of the products they consume. In addition, governments worldwide are tightening their environmental regulations governing products throughout the world. The demand for environmentally friendly products is growing and the trend towards these ‘green products’ is obvious. By developing green products, companies will be benefit in the following ways:

  • Competitive advantage – According to surveys conducted in different countries, consumers have developed a preference for environmentally friendly products
  • Cost reduction – Save production cost by designing products which use less material or use less energy in the manufacturing process, etc
  • Recognition – Companies that integrate environmental principles into their product design benefit from recognition by consumers.
  • Readiness for new regulations – More export markets will impose more stringent green product requirements. Companies failing to prepare now will find themselves making costly and hasty decisions when new requirements come into effect

Useful information:

Hong Kong:



VII. Climate change

Climate change is one of the topmost environmental issues facing society, governments and businesses today. It will disrupt natural ecosystem functions and jeopardize our natural capital that provides the economy’s resource base. As a result, businesses need to address this issue by pledging substantial emissions reduction, sealing groundbreaking emissions trades, or minimizing dependence on fossil fuels and improving operational efficiencies. The following are benefits that companies have achieved from addressing the issues surrounding climate change:

  • Reduced operating costs – By retrofitting facilities with higher energy efficiency systems, energy expenses can be reduced
  • Enhanced Brand – As climate change becomes as issue at the centre of international attention, companies will find their efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and investment in alternative energy paying back as positive public opinion and market attention.

Some useful sources of information:

VIII. Employee Management

Employees are the foundation of every successful business. By taking care and considering your employees’ need, your business could gain the following benefits:

  • Higher productivity
  • Greater loyalty and lower turnover from employees
  • Greater ease in retaining and attracting high caliber employees
  • Reduced recruitment and training cost
  • Safeguarding the ‘corporate memory’
  • Recognized as a responsible company

Companies can work on the following areas to increase staff satisfaction:

  • Encourage two-way communication
  • Provide appropriate training and professional development to employees
  • Promote equal opportunities in employment
  • Look after employees’ welfare and rights including human rights, freedom of association, fair wages, etc.
  • Encourage work-life balance culture and provide family-friendly workplace arrangement
  • Provide a healthy and safe working environment

Some useful sources of information:

IX. Stakeholder engagement

Stakeholders are those groups who can affect and/or are affected by a company and its activities both directly and indirectly, including its employees and their families, customers, shareholders, investors, suppliers, non-government organizations, and the local community where the business operates.

Nowadays, consultation and dialogues with stakeholders becomes a part of mainstream business practices. Companies, especially leading companies, no longer see stakeholder engagement as an optional means to “touch base” with different interest groups, but rather as a critical part of their business strategy. In many cases, companies are using stakeholder engagement as a way of gathering important input and ideas, entering challenging markets, anticipating and managing conflicts, improving decision-making, building consensus amongst diverse views, strengthening relationships, and enhancing corporate reputation.

Here are some tools and handbooks which can help your companies to develop your own stakeholder engagement plan:

X. Community Investment

Community investment refers to a wide range of actions companies can take to have an impact on communities. Typically, corporate community investment can be in the form of corporate giving (in terms of financial or in-kind distributions), corporate incentives for employee and customer giving, and employee volunteering. Companies are now increasingly using other forms of investment to positively impact communities, for example, mentoring and creating jobs in local communities, supporting social causes with financial and human resources, and sourcing from local businesses.

Community investment may benefit your company by:

  • Enhanced brand image and reputation
  • Increased ability to attract and retain employees
  • Enhanced employee-employer relationships
  • Enhanced employee skill development
  • Increased competitiveness in the marketplace

Useful sources of information:

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