Sustainability in China: Report Details How Companies Are Responding to a National Priority

Ground-breaking report looks at sustainability prctices by Chinese enterprises and multinational corporations doing business in China
Dec 7, 2011 10:00 AM ET
(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) December 7, 2011 - The Conference Board, the global research and business membership organization, today released a ground-breaking report on the comparative sustainability practices currently being adopted by Chinese enterprises and multinational corporations doing business in China. Based on a survey of 476 firms encompassing over 2,250 offices and production sites, Business and Sustainability in China: Company Responses to a National Priority details the steps private companies are taking to align with the Chinese government’s intensifying focus on sustainable development after three decades of accelerated GDP growth that largely neglected environmental preservation.   Along with state policy encouragement, the new prestige of corporate sustainability as a desired brand attribute has led to a sharp increase in interest and engagement in sustainability programs in recent years. Among the other key findings of the survey:
  • Cost concerns represent the strongest barrier to the implementation and expansion of sustainability programs in China.

  • Government directives, at both local and central levels, are often a decisive factor in defining corporate sustainability strategies.

  • Companies are expanding their definition of sustainability beyond environmental concerns alone to include corporate governance and labor and workplace welfare issues, among other topics.

  • Resources allocated to sustainability reveal a growing financial and staffing commitment.

  • The gap between strategy (or aspirations) and implementation capability is one of the key challenges to sustainability program effectiveness for Chinese companies.

  • Sustainability reporting and communications is an area where Chinese-run companies have significant opportunity for improvement.

  • In general, companies are uncertain about the costs, benefits, and overall effectiveness of their sustainability initiatives.

David J. Vidal, Director of The Conference Board Center for Sustainability and one of the co-authors of the report, said, “Business and Sustainability in China is a landmark report because it captures the singular blend of business and government thinking that will be defining sustainability in China. How China continues to grow its economy in a more environmentally and socially responsible way is an issue of concern wherever China has an economic impact and, today, that is almost everywhere. We believe this report gives business leaders with an interest in China a view of the nuances of this key question as seen by Chinese peers. It is a touchstone for further discussion, debate, and collaboration.”   David Hoffman, Managing Director of The Conference Board China Center for Economics and Business in Beijing and another report co-author, added, “This report dimensions evolving good and best practices in this extremely important area and, specifically, how different types of firms focus, fund, organize, measure, and appraise their sustainability efforts. We are currently working on the next iteration of this survey. We intend it to become a definitive annual metric on the topic.”   The full report is available for download at:   ABOUT THE CONFERENCE BOARD The Conference Board is a global, independent business membershipand research association working in the public interest. Our mission is unique: To provide the world’s leading organizationswith the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society. The Conference Board is a non-advocacy, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.