Companies in China have earned themselves quite a reputation regarding matters of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); a subject now deemed incredibly important in the ever-changing world of global business.
But contrary to what reports have led some to believe, the majority of successful Chinese businesses have now set best practices in place, following the ethical business structure Western organisations have sworn by for years.
A number of institutional pressures, from government, NGOs, industry, unions, communities and media, have encouraged Chinese businesses to reassess the CSR process. These are not changes that can be implemented overnight, but due to China’s admirable efforts to boost CSR practice in industry, the country is fast becoming a competitor in global, ethical business.
The 2005 National People’s Congress saw the introduction of the government’s Harmonious Society policy, which swayed China’s focus away from economic success and on to balance and harmony within Chinese community. The proposal caused an intensified dedication towards adequate CSR practices, and the necessary legislation was swiftly put in place. Article 5 of the 2006 Chinese Company Law was enforced, requiring Chinese companies to “undertake social responsibility” in all business procedures.
Following the Sichuan earthquake of May 2008, industry in China also felt the heat from the community and media. Corporate philanthropy reached an all-time-high, largely due to extensive media coverage of the harrowing disaster; managers saw the earthquake as a chance to send aid to those in need, and in turn, CSR practices significantly improved. Intense media attention and expectations from local communities forced Chinese business to fill the boots of corporate responsibility, and company philanthropy soared to record heights.
The importance of ethics in business is only going to increase, and the need for qualified graduates with a competent grasp over matters of CSR will need to match that rate. It is the Business School’s duty to teach its students to apply the ethical lessons of the classroom to the business world, turning them into business-ready, ethically professional graduates.
Furthermore, instructors should be aware that the teachings of the classroom simply can’t match up to the realities of the modern workplace, making it incredibly important for professional business courses to provide ethical opportunities that equip students with practical experiences in real-world situations.
One School that does not underestimate the importance of the ethical business graduate is Hong Kong Baptist University’s (HKBU) School of Business, located at the crossroads between emerging countries of Asia and the wider Western world.
“Our School is ideally situated to confront the changes impacting our world,” says Professor Ed Snape, Dean of HKBU’s School of Business, “be it the economic resurgence of China, the deepening impact of globalisation or the need for new ethical standards as we strive for sustainability and accountability.”
The School prides itself on the quality instruction. In its teaching, the School has integrated Business Ethics, CSR and Corporate Governance as core values across all of its business courses.
“Positive attitude, sustainable development and teamwork are the three most important things I learned from the programme,” says Mr Leung Wing Eddie, former MBA student at HKBU. “The application of these three key things not merely let me have a successful study at HKBU, but also pointed me in the direction towards a prosperous life thereafter.”
But the School’s ethical provisions are not just limited to teaching, since all of its Business departments incorporate themes of sustainability into their research. It also initiated and hosts the World Business Ethics Forum, an international academic conference that serves as a platform for scholars to interact with the business community, and develop new approaches related to corporate sustainability.
It is also provides a Service-Learning Programme, to nurture the service leadership of students and expose them to the evolving needs of the community. Over 2,250 HKBU BBA students have served more than 119 non-profit organizations, both in Hong Kong and mainland China, leaving University with the real-world ethical business experience that is so crucial for employment in today’s competitive market, whether they take up jobs in China, other parts of Asia, or the rest of the world.
“Most importantly, we strive to ensure that our graduates are equipped with the requisite set of skills needed for a successful business career,” says Snape. “While the academic curriculum is a key part of a holistic education, we also offer numerous internships and service learning/language enhancement programmes to nurture students as whole-person business leaders and responsible citizens. Academic rigor is necessary to succeed, but personal integrity is vital.”
This article was sponsored by the School of Business at Hong Kong Baptist University. HKBU has over 50 years’ experience in providing comprehensive, creative and inspiring education. HKBU is committed to providing Whole Person Education that inculcates intellectual, cultural, social and sporting skills outside the classroom in addition to training the minds within. The School of Business provides a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes across major business disciplines, with the aim to educate students that not only excel in their professions, but in every aspect of their lives.