Hong Kong has a long tradition of philanthropy. Ever year it is rated amongst the top 30 countries and territories in the world, in terms of charitable giving efforts.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) not only can be impacting the society we live in and create a healthier community, but it can also be part of a business strategy for success. It builds a crucial ethical stand, in which members are accountable for fulfilling their public duty. Our actions must benefit the whole of society. In this way, we can create the right balance between economic growth and the well-being of society and the environment.
With the continuous growth of wealth in the territory, it has become increasingly common for some of Hong Kong’s Ultra High Net Worth Individuals to donate billions of dollars to specific causes that they support and feel passionate about. Moreover, the creation of family foundations is growing in popularity. In the past couple of decades, tycoons such as Li Ka Shing, Lee Shau Kee, Tin Ka Ping and the Li & Fung founding brothers, have donated large amounts of money to various causes. These include education; earthquake and tsunami relief; healthcare; land and rural development.
While personal and family involvement in charitable causes in Hong Kong is extremely common, many companies lag behind their counterparts in other developed societies. Especially when compared to cities like New York, Sydney, London, or other European capitals.
Sustainability in larger companies
In recent years there has been a growing emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility and its link with business sustainability. CSR is seen as a strategic direction for societies, with Hong Kong gradually recognizing its importance. In the business sector’s (particularly big industrial and service corporations) quest for viable business sustainability models, the importance of CSR from a stakeholder perspective is increasingly being stressed.
The recent creation of a Hong Kong Business Sustainability Index (HKBSI) which aims “to promote the appreciation and adoption of CSR, as a progressive model for achieving business sustainability among listed companies in the territory” by the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Polytechnic University illustrates the value that is being placed on CSR.
What’s the reason for all this hype? Well it’s clear that businesses which are responsible and caring towards their stakeholder groups in the process of doing business are much more likely to sustain a long-term healthy business operation than non-responsible companies.
When combined with business strategy and included in day-to-day operation practices, CSR is the core of business sustainability. Society has become more ethically aware and consumers are attracted to businesses that have a CSR. Hence, while doing business and guaranteeing stakeholders profits, businesses need to consider the bigger necessity of social well-being and environmental protection.
Year-on-year data shows that more companies have been concerned about business sustainability and have committed diligent efforts in implementing CSR practices. Companies tend to approach their CSR activities in a strategic manner, with defined priorities aligned with their business drivers. This enables the companies to leverage their strengths and accomplish greater positive impacts on the beneficiaries.
The HKBSI is due to expand and include companies in the Greater Bay Area and the Greater China region. The logic is that a wide ranging consolidated business sustainability index will encourage and motivate more companies in the region to adopt CSR as a progressive business model in achieving business sustainability, as well as to serve as a robust indicator for investors in selecting companies. The extent of CSR participation is becoming more apparent and accessible to possible investors. Given this and the trends displayed in other societies, its increased importance on business sustainability is inevitable.
Social Responsibility is crucial for SMEs too
The term ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ can itself prove daunting to many small business owners or start-ups that have limited manpower and financial resources. However, running a CSR programme does not necessarily require corporate-sized teams or budgets. The misconceptions surrounding CSR in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) has stifled the potential social and environmental impacts that these businesses could have. There is a need in Hong Kong for SMEs to get involved and contribute more to society.
At Hugill & Ip we often help international and local SMEs set up in Hong Kong and advise on legal aspects concerning their roadmap to achieving a successful business. Such advice includes company and business structure, as well as employment and tax-related matters. Throughout this process, we also highlight the importance of social responsibility and how it can benefit a business whilst also leaving a positive impact on society. Further to stressing its usefulness in sustainability, we also emphasize that engaging with the community can open doors to new business opportunities. In many cases high-powered business executives are trustees of charities, so it’s not unusual to make additional connections with major companies through the participation in different CSR initiatives.
Community engagement can also help gain an edge over competition. It keeps customers engaged and maintains a positive brand image. Ethically and socially responsible companies are more attractive organisations for businesses to work with. Having a programme in place can be a huge asset in the procurement process for any company looking to work with the government or in the public sector.
Social responsibility is also a major driver in motivating, retaining and attracting talent to a company. Most SMEs can’t spare an employee to solely run a CSR programme, however it is usually possible to tap into the passion of a team member about a certain social issue and make work on it an additional part of their role. Their energy will help attract others to get involved, as well as increase the internal value of the whole management team. Developing a strong responsibility programme is truly a long-term positive investment in the business.
Since Hugill & Ip has opened its doors, CSR has been within our DNA. It is a strong driver of our efforts and a huge contributing factor to our continuing success. We have been periodically involved in supporting causes we feel strongly about and strive to help achieve a fairer and more liveable society. Whether it’s environmental protection, tackling the food waste emergency, equal civil rights or medical research we believe that we all have an obligation both as individuals and businesses to make sure that we live in a better world, now and for future generations to come.
This month Hugill & Ip has joined the World Cancer Day’s #IAmAndIWill campaign in support of Asian Fund for Cancer Research (AFCR). The firm will be donating part of its profits, helping to spread cancer awareness and raising funds from other corporations and individuals. Every contribution counts to fund cancer research and to save the lives of cancer patients.
Get involved in any way you can. Together we can create change.
For additional information about the campaign, please click on the following link. For donations, you can access AFCR “Ways to Give” link and set up gifts as one-off, monthly, in memoriam or in honor.
This article is for information purposes only. Its contents do not constitute legal advice and readers should not regard this article as a substitute for detailed advice in individual instances.