Carlos Noronha: Macau should step up CSR effort, says scholar

There is a lot more for Macau companies to do in terms of corporate social responsibility, says Prof. Carlos Noronha, Associate Professor of Accounting at the University of Macau and Vice Chairman of the Executive Council of the Macau Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility in Greater China.

The Institute was founded in May 2018 in the hope of promoting, facilitating and consulting on the importance and implementation of corporate social responsibility in Macau.

It is a scholarly organization consisting of academics and researchers, some of whom are students. They are all interested in the discipline of corporate social responsibility.

The Times talked with Noronha about the prevalence of corporate social responsibility, and other topics. “Currently in Macau, usually it is the larger enterprises implementing corporate social responsibility,” explained Noronha, who noted that it is a common practice in the daily administration of the six gambling concessionaires. Several larger enterprises also implement CSR policy, often publicly listed companies that operate gambling-related businesses.

A forum held by the institute on Sunday discussed the fact that the Hong Kong Stock Exchange mandates the disclosure of corporate social responsibility policies and efforts. In the future, publicly listed companies may be fined if they fail to make such disclosures.

Even so, many smaller companies in Hong Kong do have corporate social responsibility policies, according to Noronha, and this is an uncommon practice in Macau.

This is another key reason why Noronha, alongside a group of interested scholars, started the institute, to familiarize the city with the discipline, and to facilitate progress in corporate social responsibility management in the region.

“We are here to help the city catch up with the more advanced standards in the region, particularly in Hong Kong and Guangdong,” said the scholar. Indeed, Hong Kong’s stock exchange is not alone in putting forth requirements for corporate social responsibility efforts. The exchanges of Shenzhen and Shanghai also do so.

The scholar’s opinion is that “Macau should start to learn from other places in terms of corporate social responsibility,” adding that “governments can collaborate and exchange ideas, such as setting up centres and institutes to promote the discipline and supervising its implementation.”

In the future, the institute has plans to work with high-caliber academic bodies in the area, such as the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, and is open to collaboration around the world.

Noronha also noted that corporate laws in the mainland have strict requirements for corporate social responsibility. “[Everyday happenings] in the mainland [have] become the foundation for related legislation in the mainland,” said Noronha. “Such requirements are set forth in the national legislation.”

“However, in Macau, there is not much collaboration, because there’s no disclosure requirement,” Noronha pointed out. “The government may think about taking the lead to require standardized disclosure.”

When asked why he, a scholar in accounting, founded an institute studying corporate social responsibility, Noronha said, “Because the implementation of corporate social responsibility policies may have effects – either good or bad – on the accounts and sheets of a business.”

To implement the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA), the primary concerns of government bodies are how to utilize limited resources, harmonize with nature, as well as care for and support various stakeholders. These have also become the competitive edge and core values for corporate entities in the GBA. This can be seen in the detailed requirements on corporate social responsibility disclosure for listed companies in the Stock Exchanges of Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The Outline Development Plan for the Greater Bay Area has also pinpointed planning on aspects such as environmental protection and sustainable development. Through this Greater Bay Area-focused forum on corporate social responsibility, the institute hopes to strengthen collaborations among governments and corporations, foster structural and positive changes and explore sustainable development and lifestyles for the new megalopolis.

Noronha has extensive scholarly publications on corporate social responsibility and accounting disclosure. Apart from the experience of supervising masters and doctor of philosophy candidates, he is also experienced in editorial reviews, as he has been working on the boards of a number of international journals and book series, such as the Asian Business and Management, Sustainability Accounting, and the Management and Policy Journal. As a founder of the institute, he hopes that the message of corporate social responsibility can be disseminated to all kinds of businesses and organizations at all levels around the world, but especially to those in the Greater Bay Area.

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