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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Vietnam

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

The term Corporate Social Responsibility is becoming more and more popular worldwide, including in developing countries like Vietnam. Find below top companies in Vietnam that are doing great in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) describes the strategies that companies put into action as part of corporate governance that are designed to ensure the company’s operations are ethical and beneficial for society.

Since it was first introduced in 1953, the CSR concept has grown fast in terms of complexity and application, making it an interesting subject that not all businesses "dare" to approach. It is a complex system because of the nature and context. According to Harvard Business School, there are 4 categories of CSR:

  • Environmental responsibility: Reduce pollution; Increase reliance on renewable energy; Offset negative environmental impacts.

  • Ethical responsibility: Achieve fair treatment of all steak holders, including leadership, investors, employees, suppliers and customers.

  • Philanthropic responsibility: Aim to actively make the world and society a better place.

  • Economic responsibility: Aim to both maximise profits and positive impacts on the environment, people and society.

CSR in Vietnam
Is there a future for CSR in Vietnam?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Vietnam

The concept and practices of Corporate Social Responsibility was first introduced widely in Vietnam in the last 15 years, thanks to the hard works of different NGOs and international corporates in Vietnam. The term has now become one of the hottest trends in business here, as the environment in Vietnam is being severely affected by the development of the manufacturing sector.

CSR has gained much in popularity, yet, it not widely applied. According to Dau Anh Tuan, director of the legal department at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, "CSR has not become a norm yet, and only exists in big corporations with international strategy and clients". One of the main reasons for this is the lack of knowledge by managers and business owners. According to the General Statistic Office, 95% of businesses in Vietnam are small and medium, hence, it is not easy for decision makers to know and actually apply CSR in their business. According to a CSR Survey by SRI Vietnam, 40% of interviewees considered CSR to be a social obligation of businesses, which is mainly about community works and events. SMEs owners are also having troubles getting access to information and policy related to CSR, as generally the government's websites are not regularly updated and all policies are not clear enough. It hence costs more for SMEs to hire professional CSR consultants to apply CSR in their business, which seems to be one of the biggest challenges for SME owners.

At the same time, there is a lack of specific environmental and social management policies and principles for SMEs, instead, there are only policies and legal documents to support SME development related to business in general. As most of businesses who support practise CSR are international corporates or Vietnamese businesses that are heavily influenced by international markets, it is more urgent than ever before for the government to introduce more frameworks and policies to guide SMEs on CSR.

CSR case studies in Vietnam

1. Coca-Cola Company Vietnam

Being one of the earliest and biggest investors in Vietnam, Coca-Cola Vietnam has been seriously investing in its sustainable practices here. Recently, together with other 8 leading companies in the consumer goods and packaging sector, Coca-Cola Vietnam launched the Packaging Recycling Organisation Vietnam (PRO Vietnam) to tackle the problem of single-used packaging, aiming to drive the circular economy and make the recycling process of packaging more accessible.

Coca-Cola in Vietnam
Coca-Cola Vietnam is doing its best for the environment, society and economy in Vietnam

Coca-Cola Vietnam also helps to provide clean drinking water for various secondary schools in Vietnam, by partnering with Center for Consultancy on Family Health and Community Development, to provide clean water access to schools, and help raising awareness among school children about the importance of water. Just in 2020, they invested more than $110,000 into the programme, helping 6,244 school children and teachers as well as 12,488 from the surrounding areas.

Together with WWF, Coca-Cola Vietnam invested VND6.8 billion (about $300,000), for conversation programme at Tram Chim National Park. Their great investment has resulted in 231 bird species protected in the park for years. Moreover, through technology improvement, they also manage to make international business practices more effective, for example, between 2015 and 2020, the water efficiency of Coca-Cola Vietnam increased by 25%.

2. HSBC Vietnam

HSBC Vietnam's aim is not only to be one of the major banks here in Vietnam, but also to build a business for the long term, with the trust from clients and the communities, and minimise impacts on the environment. In 2020, HSBC Vietnam had 3 ambitious aims to promote its CSR in Vietnam:

  • Providing sustainable finance: HSBC aimed to provide between $750 billion and $1 trillion in sustainable financing and investment by 2030, so that more and more SMEs can switch to sustainable development in business.

  • Climate solutions and innovation: HSBC Vietnam is testing new financing for nature-based climate solutions, working towards innovative clean technologies.

  • Becoming a net zero bank: The aim of HSBC Vietnam is to be net zero by 2030 in all of its operations and supply chains, and to align financed emissions of its customers to the Paris Agreement goal of net zero by 2050.

HSBC in Vietnam
HSBC introduced the very first green deposit for corporate clients in Vietnam, supporting them with sustainability development strategy

3. Honda Vietnam

Honda has always been one of the most recognised companies in Vietnam, since its first export of 20,000 Super Cubs to Vietnam in 1967, annually, it accounts for about 73% of the total motorbike market here.

Honda cub vietnam
Honda cub, a legend in Vietnam for more than 40 years

For the community, in the past 20 years, Honda has greatly supported with free bikes for the police force, financial support for poor family, and especially donation for families affected by flooding during 2015 and 2017. They donated more than 2billion VND, including 1.5 billion in cash and 23 generators.

For the environment, Honda Vietnam has hold various events throughout Vietnam, including 4.9 billion VND (8 years) to plant 506ha of forest in Bay Kan, AR-CDM in partnership with JICA to plant 309ha of forest in Hoa Binh, etc.

For education, Honda Vietnam has been supporting thousands of Vietnamese students at all ages to pursue a brighter future in Education. With the Honda Award, Honda is supporting Vietnamese students with more than 200 scholarships to study at different universities in Vietnam.

It is still a long way for CSR to be fully applied in all businesses in Vietnam. It is strongly important for both consumers and business owners to be more aware of the importance of CSR, at the same time, to create a positive movement in the society for everyone to be more responsible.

Hopefully with our actions, the future of Vietnam will be brother than ever before.



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