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Apr 25, 2021 / 09:54

Vietnamese enterprises to advance responsible business practice

The level of awareness of Vietnamese small enterprises on responsible business practice is lower than that of large ones, according to a latest survey.

More than half of total Vietnamese enterprises at all scales plan to advance responsible business practice (RBP) in accordance with international standards, according to the latest study released by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Embassy of Sweden in Vietnam,

It is part of the Study on Corporate Awareness and Implementation of Responsible Business Practice in Vietnam in 2020.

 Delegates attend the annoucement ceremony of the Study on April 22. Photo: Phi Nhat

Advancing responsibility  

According to the UNDP, the concept of RBP is considered as the minimum compliance with regulations in business activities to prevent and address negative impacts on people and the earth, making contribution to the sustainable development of society.

Specifically, about 71% surveyed State-owned enterprises (SOE) will surely accelerate the implementation of RBP in the near future. Nearly 60% small and medium businesses plan to adhere to RBP in three key pillars of management, labor and environment, Vu Van Tuan, the team leader of the survey, told Hanoitimes at the announcement ceremony on April 22 in Hanoi. 

Exporting businesses make up 11% of the respondents, who best applied domestic and international RBP for working with leading foreign groups and having to meet the high requirements of their partners.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected global supply and international brands, requiring Vietnamese suppliers to meet high social and environmental standards,” Do Quynh Chi, Director of the Research Center for Employment Relations, said. 

Among the respondents, about 81% of the State-owned enterprises (SOE), mainly large-scale  ones, fully understood the concept and the implications of  RBP. Meanwhile, the level of awareness of Vietnamese private small enterprises on RBP is much lower. 

Towards National Action Plan 2022

 Delegates are discussing about the responsible business practice in Vietnam. Photo: Phi Nhat

“Vietnam has made a lot of progress in adhering to labor responsibility compared to the previous 20 years. In the past, local enterprises considered applying RBP as a deed of charity,” Chi added. 

Local enterprises are still facing with barriers to implement RBP. Adhering to RBS comes at a huge cost for businesses in the textile industry, placing them in disadvantageous positions.  

Most of respondents agreed that a National Action Plan would be the best way forward to provide support and consistency for RBP implementation in the future, Tuan said.

"The role of the government in directing and leading the process of advancing RBP is very important, meanwhile relevant ministries and branches need to work together to draw up the plan.”

Addressing the launch, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Sitara Syed highly appreciated the Ministry of Justice for leading the formulation and adoption of Vietnam’s first National Action Plan on Responsible Business Practices by 2022. 

The National Plan will be guided by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, in which UNDP will support this process and convene ample consultations with key stakeholders on the priority areas of the National Action Plan. 

Tuan commented this would also allow for longer term investment plans in Vietnam, giving communities and other stakeholders the confidence, they need to be sure their rights are being protected.

The study on RBP focuses on labor, environmental, and governance issues, with the data being collected through focus group discussions, key informant interviews and a survey with nearly 280 respondents. 

It aims to provide inputs for the design of interventions that are grounded in evidence, target real gaps in awareness and implementation, and guide strategy towards a more favorable and sustainable business environment that respects people, protects the planet and brings prosperity to Vietnam.

The study was part of the Responsible Business Week (April 19-24) and in commemoration of the Earth Day (April 22).