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CommonWealth Magazine's 2017 CSR survey

The ECCT's Corporate Social Responsibility committee hosted a lunch on the topic "Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility - CommonWealth Magazine's 2017 CSR rankings and index". At the event the speakers gave an overview of the Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility rankings and CSR index, including a summary of the results from 2011-2016 and an introduction to the questionnaire for 2017, which has just been completed.

CommonWealth Magazine has been promoting the concept of CSR since 1996 and been running its Excellence in CSR programme for 11 years. Its methodology draws on international standards and trends from the United Nations, the OECD, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and other internationally-based indicators and has been refined over the years to assess four main areas: corporate governance, corporate commitment, community involvement and environmental protection. Each of the four areas is given an equal (25% weighting).

In contrast to the Sustainable Development Goal indicators of the United Nations, Commonwealth analyses social participation projects carried out by enterprises in Taiwan, dividing all projects into 11 categories related to social participation projects implemented in Taiwan. Based on last year's survey results, the largest proportion of projects are in the area of vulnerable care (32.6% of projects), followed by talent development or personnel training (17.2%) and environmental sustainability (15%).

As of 2016, the list of companies covered had risen from the top 50 (30 large enterprises, 10 medium-sized enterprises and 10 foreign enterprise) to the top 100 (50 large enterprise, 15 medium-sized enterprises, 15 foreign enterprises and 20 "little giants").

Yen made the point that if you rank executives based on performance, their rankings are very different if you include CSR performance as a component. He also pointed out that it is impossible for small companies to make the same quantitative impact as large corporations but that they can make a qualitative difference in specific areas.

He went on to cite examples in Taiwan, including of companies involved in green technology that employ their expertise to help local communities.

He made the point that for CSR initiatives to be successful, resources need to be employed effectively and they tend to be much more successful if they are related to a company's core competency or expertise. However, based on statistics cited by Yen, only a small percentage of enterprises in Taiwan are doing work in their specific fields of expertise.

There are good examples to follow from overseas, not only of leveraging expertise but also making use of brands and marketing clout to promote an initiative. For example, Manchester City Football club has partnered with Japanese carmaker Nissan and US-based battery storage developer, Eaton to re-use second-hand electric vehicle batteries for domestic electricity storage. Eaton and Nissan's xStorage residential battery unit will begin selling in the summer of 2017. Eaton views the UK as the ideal location to facilitate demand for battery storage. The US firm has 4,300 UK employees across 30 sites and has worked with Nissan since 2012 to establish a commercially viable energy storage system. This is an excellent example of using the football club's marketing clout to reach a large audience of fans and promote an environmentally-friendly energy-saving solution.

Yen concluded by "reinventing" the CSR acronym to emphasise what is important to make CSR effective. In his version, "C" stands for "collaboration", thereby emphasising the importance of collaboration with partners, employees, customers and suppliers. "S" stands for "strength" to emphasise the need to focus on and make use of a company's key strengths or competence. "R" stands for "resources", to emphasise the need to employ resources effectively in order to make CSR initiatives effective and sustainable.

After Yen's presentation, his colleague Wu Fen-chieh introduced the questionnaire for 2017, which has recently been finalised. At the time of the event, the registration process was almost over. The review period will be in June and July and results will be published in mid-August.