With increasing globalisation and competition, companies are focusing on corporate social responsibility (CSR) to strengthen their brands and obtain competitive advantages, a seminar heard in HCM City on Sept. 8.

The International Organisation for Standardisation defines CSR basically as the responsibility of an organisation for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society and the environment.

Pham Gia Tuc, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the seminar titled "CSR: A tool to create an image and competitive advantage for Vietnamese enterprises," that consumers in developed countries also consider how a product was produced and not just its quality.

In many countries, the movement to protect consumers' rights and the environment has developed very strongly, and encompassed movements to boycott cancer-causing additives and products using animal feather and child labour.

Due to society pressure, businesses globally consider CSR an important strategy to help them stand out in the minds of employees, consumers, and potential partners, he said.

Many large Vietnamese companies too were becoming aware that CSR is indispensable for them to enter the global market.

Thus, they are undertaking programmes like reducing carbon dioxide emissions, using renewable energy, supporting victims of natural disasters, and so on.

But many do not understand the concept thoroughly.

Prof Wayne Visser, founder and director of CSR International, said many companies in Vietnam are small or medium-sized and so have limitations on resources.

Thus, they should not worry much about formal CSR practices like policies, codes, and CSR managers and reports.

Instead, they should adopt the principles underlying CSR — like good governance, economic development, stakeholder consultation and environmental integrity — and implement them informally in their business.

Around 150 businesses took part in the event organised by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry./.