Eliminating racial discrimination

Hong Kong prides itself as an open and international city with a level playing field for all. If we really want to be a world class city like New York, London or Toronto, we would need to demonstrate our tolerance and be receptive of people coming from diverse backgrounds. Literally we need to put our money where our mouth is, not Just pay lip service to it but guarantee it by law. Hong Kong is a very multiracial society. We have many kinds of Chinese alone: Hong Kong Chinese, Mainland Chinese and other overseas Chinese.

Hong Kong is also home to a very diverse range of immunities from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, Britain, Japan, Europe, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Korea, Bangladesh and Sir Lankan, not to mention Jews and Indians from Shanghai! Many Indian and Jewish families came to Hong Kong as refugees from Shanghai and other major cities in China, the same way that many Chinese families did. The racial diversity provides a unique value. It is our link to our trading partners and strengthens Hong Kong as the global trader.

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More than 2,000 multinational companies maintain regional offices or headquarters in Hong Kong. These multinational firms have played important roles in Hong Gong’s economic development. Similarly Hong Gong’s homegrown companies have become increasingly global. Eliminating racial discrimination is not only fair, it makes good business sense. Many companies in the world have diversity policy. An example of the benefits of workforce diversity can be demonstrated in the story of the rise in fortunes for a telecoms company (CT’) in Hong Kong.

About four years ago, this company saw an opportunity to expand its business in Canada because of the vast number of Hong Kong people who had ‘migrated to Canada. The company’s marketing strategy included leaflets in Chinese and, for new customers, a promise to deliver moon cakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival to relatives back in Hong Kong. The strategy proved very successful and this Hong Kong-based company was able to secure a market share in a foreign country.

The crucial element is that these employees were able to understand the needs of the customers and weave these into the marketing plan. A good diversity policy also enhances brand name value. Last year, a survey conducted by Delano PR Worldwide found that non- overpayment organizations (Nags), such as Greenback and Amnesty International, have earned a greater level of trust than some of the most well-respected global multinational companies such as Ford and Microsoft.

It is noteworthy that the respondents were well-educated, media attentive individuals between the age of 34 and 64 from five industrialized countries (U. S. , U. K. , France, Germany, and Australia). These are indications that consumers are becoming more sophisticated and are increasingly taking account of social accountability issues. Similarly, shareholders too, re likely to be interested in these same issues.

According to a study by Covenant Investment Management in 1996 on Standard and Poor’s 500, it found that the annelids return for the 100 companies which rated lowest in equal employment opportunities issues averaged 8%, compared to 18% for the 100 companies that rated highest in their equal employment opportunities. The figures are clear: diversity their organizations. At the international level, the United Nations Secretary-General, Kopi Anna, challenged world business leaders at the 1999 Annual Meeting of the

World Economic Forum at Davis, to initiate a Global Compact of shared values and principles to give a human face to the global market. For the community in Hong Kong, we have been advocating three principles of the Global Compact: Businesses should support and respect the protection of international human rights within their sphere of influence; and Make sure their own corporations are not complicit in human rights abuses; and Eliminate discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Another example of international initiative is the launching of the global DOD Jones Sustainability Group Indexes (DIGS) in 1999 in response to growing investors’ interest in sustainable development. These indexes track the performance of sustainability leaders worldwide and encompass the top 10% of companies that lead their industry in terms of economic, environmental and social criteria.

In June 2000, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (COED) Ministers endorsed the revised “Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises”, which set out voluntary principles and standards of responsible corporate conduct in areas such as the environment, labor standards and human rights. In the U. S. , the former Vice President, AY Gore, and the Department of Commerce commissioned a benchmarking exercise in October 2000 of best practices in achieving workforce diversity.

Significantly, the exercise revealed the large number of public and private sector organizations that have been actively promoting diversity. In the U. K. , some 700 companies have Joined a “Business in the Community” campaign, committed to continually improving their positive impact on society. Many of these companies have also formed a network, “Race for Opportunity”, to work on race and diversity as a equines agenda and include large corporations such as Barclay Bank, BBC, British Telecoms, HASH, Goldman Cash, Shell International Ltd. , and Texaco, to name but a few.

Increasingly, corporations are required to operate in a fair, transparent and accountable manner. Numerous public and private bodies have responded by establishing standards and norms related to important aspects of corporate governance. Business now recognizes that increasingly consumers are demanding that the foods they eat, the clothes they wear and the products they use daily are manufactured under ethical working conditions. These include fair employment opportunities for all, fair wages, a safe working place and a clean environment to name a few.

Market share and brand name value depend on consumer acceptance of a company’s employment policy, servicing standards and manufacturing conditions. Failures in these areas can sometimes lead to consumer boycotts. Social accountability and marketability are becoming more and more indisputable, and rights advocates recognition that industries and business create Jobs and they must be aware of equal opportunity for minority ethnics from different culture in the advancement and development of a community.