Strategies and solutions for CSR By Richard Welford

By Richard Welford

Making CSR strategic, integrated and embedded into a business is not easy task. Many of the CSR managers that I know find this one of the biggest challenges they face. Too often CSR is seen as something of an “add-on” in businesses and it is difficult to get colleagues committed to playing their part in the social responsibility of the whole business. It is even more difficult to broaden that strategic approach to the whole of a company’s value chain, even if that is where some of the most material impacts exist.

But making CSR strategic and finding solutions to global challenges in something that we must all work towards and that is why it is one of the key themes of the CSR Asia Summit this year. We will examine what works and equally what doesn’t work to achieve sustainable business practices. The workshops will present innovative solutions and future scenarios that companies need to be considering now. The selected areas of strategy, value chains, sourcing and new inclusive business models will be at the core of the discussions.

One workshop dealing with strategic dimensions of CSR will examine the emerging issues that we are now seeing in the region and at how businesses should respond in a strategic way. The session will address a number of ‘hot topics’ in Asia and will examine how the private sector can provide leadership on finding solutions to these global challenges. It will demonstrate the need for the private sector to take on committed and strategic approach linked to brand and reputation.

Bo Viktor Nylund, Senior Advisor to UNICEF, Rolf Dietmar from the Sino-German CSR Project, GIZ and FangFang Chen from State Street will all discuss how the private sector can contribute solutions to emerging sustainability challenges.

An innovative workshop on sustainable value chains will review the many projects that have attempted to improve supply chain conditions. It will consider the debates around the usefulness of audits in a business environment where many factories cheat and even some auditors cheat. We will consider what can really be done to create sustainable supply chains. This session does not pretend to provide the definitive answers, but does provide some innovative forms of engagement between brands, suppliers, NGOs and workers.

Speakers will include Martin Ma, China Director, Solidaridad Network, Miki Watanabe, Fuji Xerox Co., Dee Lee, Inno Community Development Organisation and James M. Donovan, Group CEO, First Carbon Solutions.

Another important dimension to making CSR strategic involves engagement with communities. In particular we will examine effective ways to avoid conflict with stakeholders through community engagement strategies. This has to be seen in the context of a rise of community conflict in Asia recently. As communities become more aware of their rights and grassroots organizations become better connected through the social media, conflicts are coming to the surface and take on a new prominence. We will discuss how many companies are finding more constructive ways of addressing community concerns, along with a number of tools that are being developed to help companies avoid creating new conflicts. This session addresses learnings, dilemmas and practical solutions which help companies manage volatile stakeholder landscapes.

Steven Bartholomeusz, Senior Manager Corporate Social Responsibility, Sarawak Energy, Tim Bishop, Private Sector Specialist Asia Pacific, CARE International and Michelle Brown from CSR Asia will all discuss practical strategies and solutions that companies need to consider.

A new and emerging strategic issue on the CSR agenda involves a move towards creating more inclusive businesses. A workshop will examine innovative strategies for economic and social development that includes poor and disadvantaged groups in the value chain of companies. Many companies are seeking to better develop inclusive business approaches as part of their business strategy to expand market access which also link to community investment strategies and poverty alleviation. While such approaches can bring market opportunities in new markets there are also possibilities to ‘create shared value’ through products, services and business innovations. The session outlines innovative new approaches to development. What have been some of the successes as well as some of the lessons learned?

A number of prominent speakers will share their experiences including: Javier Ayala, Inclusive Business Program Leader, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, Aurora Chen, Director of Sustainability, Coca-Cola Greater China, Fu Lei, Senior Director for Sustainability, Nokia, and Ola Jo Tandre, Director CR, Telenor Group.

Richard WELFORD is one of the founders and the chairman of CSR Asia. He has over twenty years of experience working in the fields of environmental management and social responsibility. He was one of the early pioneers in developing social audit and reporting methodologies with UK-based organisations such as The Body Shop, IBM and Eastern Electricity in the 1990s. From 2002 to 2010 Richard was also a professor at the University of Hong Kong and headed up the Corporate Environmental Governance Programme. He has worked with some of the leading multinational enterprises and local companies and NGOs in Asia including Disney, CLP, Nike, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Swire Pacific, Cathay Pacific, HP, IBM, HSBC, Citigroup, Accor, Credit Suisse, UBS, P&G and Adidas. Richard’s work has had a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability and social justice. He has worked with companies on developing their CSR strategies and with NGOs on developing private sector engagement plans. He has also worked on policies and implementation plans covering a range of issues including governance, supply chain risks, human rights, community investment, poverty alleviation, conservation and biodiversity.  Richard is also a Director of ERP Environment, a UK based publisher and sits on the Board of AIDS Concern in Hong Kong. He can be reached at


Further details of this year’s CSR Asia Summit can be found at:

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