Since 2006, BSR has been actively involved in CSR reporting practices in China, providing professional reporting for businesses and non-governmental organizations on capacity building, best practices, and trend research.

Reporting is one way to respond to public concerns. However, because of the unique social and political structure in China, many companies disclose reports only to meet the requirements of government agencies such as the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) of the State Council and the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Furthermore, unilateral responses often make these reports incomplete and unreliable. According to the 2010 Baseline Survey of CSR in China conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 35 percent of interviewees have little trust in a company's CSR report.

BSR recently finished a reporting project for L’Oréal China, a leading global cosmetic company that has operated in the country for more than 10 years. Faced with stricter product requirements and higher expectations from diverse stakeholders including consumers, L’Oréal China produced three reports that focused on increased communication and interaction with audiences:

  • Consumer Brochure: L'Oréal China created a brochure that included the company's key sustainability achievements over the past two years. The brochure addressed consumer concerns and were available to consumers at L’Oréal sales counters.
  • Website: A sustainability website served as an interactive online CSR report and included videos from key stakeholders. At the same time, L’Oréal China created online games to attract more visits to the website and raise awareness about green house gas emissions, waste management, and water protection—three issues that are at the core of L’Oréal China’s sustainability efforts.
  • Hardcopy Report: A hardcopy version of the online report presented the whole sustainable development picture of L’Oréal China.

During the reporting process, L’Oréal China identified 16 key stakeholders—including L’Oréal China’s CEO and President, members of the China Consumer Association, the China Youth Development Foundation, and prominent suppliers—to comment on L’Oréal China’s sustainability initiatives in the form of video interviews. These videos complemented the online report and were received as a positive, effective way of presenting sustainability accomplishments to diverse audiences.

A BSR report, Corporate Responsibility Reporting: A View for the Next Cycle, highlights trends that are shaping the future of reporting, such as revising the print–web relationship, including analytical commentary from stakeholders, and using Web 2.0 and other creative approaches to communicate with diverse target audiences. We see these trends already taking place in China today.