Decent work for sustainable social development in China

In online training, Capital University of Economics and Business (CUEB) students receive in-depth training on key CSR concepts.

Press release | 01 December 2020

Beijing (ILO News) - For WANG Qing, in the second year of her masters at CUEB and majoring in labour economics, attending a presentation by the Responsible Supply Chains in Asia programme brought some surprising shifts in her understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility.

“At first, I thought "this is a plus" but later I thought "not doing this is a minus," she said.

WANG Qing is one of 40 students attending a virtual seminar on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains put on by the RSCA programme and the Chinese Academy of Labour and Social Security (CALSS). The course introduces key CSR concepts such as decent work, International Labour Standards and Responsible Business Conduct.

“Society has higher and higher standards for enterprises and believes that enterprises will do better and better under such supervision. Our enterprises, our labour relations, and our social development can only be sustainable with increasingly strict supervision and constantly improved standards,” says Qing.

The evolution in thinking that Wang Qing described is crucial to the understanding of future business leaders in one of the world’s leading economies which is also pivotal to so many global value chains.

Presenter Dr. HUANG Kun of CALSS says that responsible labour practices should be central to corporate development strategies. She also believes China has some way to go:

“Chinese enterprises play key roles in global supply chains, but they are not sufficiently involved in the formulation of corporate social responsibility standards,” she says. “Chinese enterprises and the tripartite constituents coordinating labour relations should enhance their contribution to the development of corporate social responsibility standards, and help promote responsible Chinese enterprises abroad. ” she adds.

This training is part of broader outreach by the programme to influence supply chain stakeholders from workers to employers and policymakers. It is based on the major international policy frameworks concerning labour governance in global supply chains, such as the ILO’s MNE Declaration.

Programme manager, Fredy Guayacan, spoke to the students about the importance of social, corporate and environmental sustainability. “ As both consumers and governments are increasingly focused on sourcing from supply chains with high standards, building a culture of responsible business practices is more and more considered as a factor of competitiveness ” he explains.

PhD student SU Jianning, thought the presentation had implications for his research on (digital) ‘platform’ enterprises.

“The continuous search for lowering labour costs, as observed in certain platform enterprises can eventually affect and restrict the sustainable development of enterprises and society,” he noted. “Safeguarding harmonious labour relations, equal rights and responsible business conducts are key to ensure positive and balanced outcomes over time”.