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Corporate support for communities pays off

Released at: 07:31, 13/06/2018

Corporate support for communities pays off

Photo: VET

Local and foreign stakeholders agree on the importance corporate social responsibility plays in success and acceptance.

Mr. Denis Brunetti, Co-chairman, Eurocham in Vietnam

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is at the core of how European companies operate. We believe that good corporate citizenship is pivotal to earning our social license to operate and contribute to the overall welfare of Vietnam. We make sure that this message is passed on to current and prospective members, while our organization itself also engages in CSR action. The Chamber has recently launched the EuroCham Sustainability Initiative (ESI), which aims to encourage businesses to moderate the consumption of single-use plastic water bottles. We plan to launch a new ESI every year, equally promoting simple measures that companies can take to contribute to a greener future for Vietnam. 

Moreover, we are also in the process of launching a technical CSR Audit service for our members. In addition, EuroCham cooperates closely with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry France-Vietnam (CCIFV) and its CSR-dedicated department to support related activities. We also organize and co-organize several events on CSR, one of which, “How Doing Good is Good for Business” - in cooperation with LIN - will take place in June. The way European businesses of all sizes typically incorporate CSR into their business plans is an element that differentiates them. This approach reinforces the view that EuroCham members and European businesses at large are the optimum partners for Vietnam. 

Mr. Nguyen Quang Vinh, General Secretary of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) 

In general, things have become better as the business community is becoming more aware of opportunities and targets in sustainable development. This is the third year the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD) at VCCI has held its Corporate Sustainability Assessment Program. We see that the implementation of CSR activities at foreign-invested and local companies is now more professional.

The corporate sustainability index (CSI) is used as a benchmark to measure the sustainable development of participating companies within the program. From integrating the index into the sustainability reports of companies, participating companies realized their CSR issues and changed their thinking. Thanks to these, corporate governance and competitive capacity at the companies also notably improved. Foreign-invested enterprises have implemented CSR activities more professionally than local companies thanks to their advantages in capital and resources and long-term vision. The implementation of CSR activities at local companies is, however, better than 10 or 15 years ago. 

The “Better Business, Better World” report issued by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission noted that sustainable business opportunities to realize the Global Goals in the four surveyed economic systems could create a market worth an estimated $12 trillion and 380 million new jobs by 2030, with almost 90 per cent of them being in developing countries. Asia will have the most business opportunities created by sustainable development, becoming a driving force for Vietnamese enterprises to follow a more sustainable and humane development path.

However, most companies remain confused about their approach to corporate sustainability goals. VBCSD specified 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and actions to promote the spirit of “Better Business, Better World” among the business community. New concepts such as a circular economy, sustainability reporting, high-tech agriculture, and renewable energy are conveyed in a wide range of action programs. We always diversify support methods to make achieving the SDGs the correct growth strategy.

I believe that sustainable businesses will see major changes in their operations. VBCSD will this year launch a program promoting a circular economy in Vietnam, initially in the plastics industry. Companies participating in the program will raise their initiatives and together implement activities to improve awareness among the government, enterprises, and Vietnamese people. We will also apply the program in other sectors and cities and provinces in the time to come. Sustainability development is an opportunity, not a challenge, for enterprises. And this is the path every enterprise must take if they plan to go global.

Mr. Than Duc Viet, Deputy CEO of Garco 10

To integrate globally requires companies adopt their own sustainable development strategy in three key regards: business, environmental protection, and employee responsibility. With 72 years of operations, Garco 10 has strategies and criteria to assess its corporate activities. CSR in particular is of interest to the company and accompanies its business strategy. Revenue growth at the company is 10-15 per cent per annum and its ROI grows sustainably. In addition to ensuring strategies in market management and brand prestige, we have built an ERP system, so public transparency is high. 

In terms of the environment, we don’t invest in the textiles sector, which has a negative impact on the environment. We manage waste products and tools as well as set up waste treatment systems in accordance with quality standards. We also aim to save energy for environmental protection through applying energy-saving systems at workplaces. We also update our environmental standards. 

Exports account for 80 per cent of our total value, of which those to the US account for 45 per cent, the EU 40 per cent, and Japan 10 per cent. These three developed markets require Garco 10 meet their standards, in particular on caring about workers’ living standards. The US and the EU call for CSR experts to review and assess the company’s activities relating to working conditions. 

Every company is aware of CSR activities and have CSR programs and strategies. If we don’t meet standards we will lose orders and perhaps even go bankrupt. We review, audit and resolve CSR issues quarterly and annually. However, meeting CSR standards in terms of the environment and workers is not easy for companies, in particular companies short of capital, which will face obstacles in implementing associated activities. The cost of purchasing production lines with modern energy-saving and environmental protection technology is quite high.

Mr. John Rockhold, Managing Director, Amcham Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City

US enterprises are very active in CSR. Just look at AmCham Vietnam’s Premium Members - Intel, Coca Cola, Pepsi, First Solar, the list goes on. Their policies refer to American companies’ responsibilities towards our environment. American companies operating in Vietnam are not operating alone. They are part of Vietnam’s bigger picture of people, values and nature. American businesses operating in Vietnam are giving back to the country, as it has given to our enterprises.

It’s held that CSR increases profits in Vietnam, so American enterprises are actively engaged in it. American executives in Vietnam believe that CSR improves profit. They understand that CSR promotes respect of their company among the people of Vietnam, which results in higher sales and enhances employee loyalty, and CSR has proven to lower operating costs and improve efficiencies as well.

American enterprises are proactive in donations, aid, volunteering, preserving the environment, and supporting the community. They make monetary donations, encourage employees to volunteer, and sponsor volunteering activities. Separate from their legal obligations, enterprises will proactively protect the environment, support community investment and educational programs, and invest in R&D. 

Ms. Pham Chi Lan, Independent Economic Researcher

Foreign and Vietnamese enterprises have paid greater attention to CSR activities over recent years. Enterprises now consider CSR a key criterion in assessing their success and contribution to the economy and society. I think that most foreign enterprises have CSR programs, of which many have professional programs that are strategic and long term, and they have spent large sums. Vietnamese enterprises also have many quality CSR programs.

CRS activities are abundant and varied among enterprises. Vietnam does not have formal regulations for CSR activities, with enterprises designing and implementing such programs themselves. Different perspectives on CSR among enterprise will lead to different approaches. In my opinion, multinational corporations (MNCs) have implemented such activities in Vietnam very professionally and in the long term and meet international CSR standards, as CSR activities must be applied on a global scale. They also invite Vietnamese experts to comment on their CSR activities, to ensure they are suitable for Vietnam. 

Vietnamese businesses often think about and implement CSR programs without any consultation with others.

CSR plays an important role in the sustainable development of enterprises. Enterprises want to develop sustainably and must attach their interests to the interests of society. But many enterprises have implemented CSR activities but not really paid much attention to environmental issues and have violated many environmental regulations. CSR is not only using money to conduct charitable activities. Creating a good working environment for employees is also a CSR activity. For sustainable development, CSR activities should take into account such issues. 

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