Companies urged to contribute to society

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2007, 12:00am

Social and community development must go hand in hand with economic progress, businesspeople were told yesterday at a conference on corporate social responsibility.

Calling on firms to contribute to a harmonious society in return for healthy and sustainable growth, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Frederick Ma Si-hang said businesses needed to earn the recognition of their employees and customers to be truly successful.

Companies should demonstrate they were responsible for their products and services, the environment, their staff as well as society, he said. This meant ensuring products were safe and honestly promoted and marketed, minimising pollution, providing a safe working environment and encouraging charity work to benefit the less privileged.

The Council of Social Service and the Labour and Welfare Bureau organised the Corporate Social Responsibility Hong Kong conference under the banner of 'Making Hong Kong a Great Place to Work and to Live'. The South China Morning Post is a media partner.

The issue is increasingly topical as companies recognise the business merits of being socially responsible. Many firms, like HSBC and CLP Power, have adopted family-friendly practices like a five-day work week, flexible working environments, paternity leave and measures to protect the environment. Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said corporate social responsibility was vital to promoting a quality living standard.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said such employment practices were not necessarily the domain of resource-rich companies and that all businesses could exercise some corporate social responsibility.

He said what was needed was just a little thoughtfulness and flexibility from management.

'Such practices would relieve employees of stress and help them concentrate on their work, and in turn boost team spirit and increase work productivity,' Mr Cheung said.