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Oxfam believes corporations play an important role in poverty alleviation and promoting social sustainability. If companies protect the rights of workers, pay reasonable salaries to all staff, and provide them with a safe working environment, workers would be better protected. Also, businesses should pay their fair share of tax so governments have enough public finance to alleviate poverty and help low-income workers work their way out of poverty.Oxfam works to influence companies to improve their policies and practices, avoid harming people and the environment, and improve tax transparency. Corporations that are more socially responsible not only benefit the community as a whole, but also help to establish a good image and promote their own business growth, which helps achieve a win-win situation.

That is why we have published a variety of reports on these issues over the years. In 2004, for instance, we released the research report ‘Turning the Garment Industry Inside Out – Purchasing Practices and Workers’ Lives’. In 2006 and 2009, we published ‘Transparency Reports’ I and II, again on the garment sector, focusing on companies in Hong Kong and mainland China. Then in both 2009 and 2010, Oxfam published research on the CSR performance of Hang Seng Index constituent companies, and we revisited the topic with improved ESG standard in 2016.Since 2010, we have extended our advocacy work to regulatory bodies, and have handed in two submissions concerning the rewrite of the Companies Ordinance as well as ESG reporting to the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau and Hong Kong Stock Exchange respectively. In 2015, we began to engage with institutional investors by conducting a survey to collect their views on ESG reporting requirements for listed companies. The research findings were compiled as a submission in response to Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s consultation on the ESG reporting guide.In 2016, we further extended our advocacy work to cover tax transparency. We handed in two submissions to the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau of the Government regarding its consultations on implementing measures against base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) and on enhancing the transparency of beneficial ownership of Hong Kong companies.

 Environmental, Social and Governance Disclosure

Oxfam Hong Kong is urging all enterprises to enhance their transparency in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) disclosure so that the public can better understand and even monitor their CSR performance. We hope companies will integrate ESG factors into business strategy and operations, and report on areas like labour, environment, human rights and equal opportunities, and set pro-poor policies. We have conducted the researches on the ESG, and recommended Hong Kong Stock Exchange to elevate the reporting obligations of listed companies.

CSR Survey of Hang Seng Index Constituent Companies

The launch of the first Corporate Social Responsibility Survey of Hang Seng Index Constituent Companies in December 2008 expanded our scope of work beyond the garment sector. It was the first attempt in the Asia region to document the CSR policies and initiatives of the biggest companies in the Hong Kong stock market, and we revisited the topic witin improved ESG standard in 2016. By evaluating the companies listed on the Hang Seng Index, the survey provided a general representation of how Hong Kong enterprises are addressing important social and environmental issues within their business strategies. Our ultimate objective is to call on the largest companies in Hong Kong to demonstrate the best international practices and take the lead in the CSR movement, with a view to achieving poverty reduction.

Tax Transparency
It has been Oxfam’s belief that tax revenue is a major resource that governments leverage on to alleviate poverty. However, multinational corporations often take advantage of low tax rates, tax breaks, and loopholes in tax laws and regulations for tax avoidance purposes, depriving developing countries of the necessary public financial resources to fight poverty. The action plans against BEPS – as recommended by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ‒ and the measures to enhance beneficial ownership transparency ‒ as recommended by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) ‒ should help increase tax transparency of companies and diminish corporate tax avoidance. We have handed in two submissions in response to the Hong Kong government’s public consultations on these matters: