Inclusive business – or ‘creating shared value’ – goes beyond maximising returns to shareholders. It involves creating value for a wide range of stakeholders in society.
However, it also benefits business by providing access to a broader and larger customer base, and a larger workforce.
Inclusive employment practices help to ensure that no-one is excluded from Hong Kong’s economic success and prosperity, and that everyone has the opportunity to share in the pride and dignity that comes from work.
Businesses should ensure that disadvantaged groups – people with disabilities, the elderly, employees with eldercare responsibilities, and others – are supported to participate and remain in the workforce. Measures include anti-discrimination policies, manager and employee training, active recruitment practices, advocacy group engagement, and ongoing dialogue to understand those employees’ needs.
If companies are not in a position to begin hiring disadvantaged groups immediately, a supplementary approach is to procure from social enterprises, which have social missions at their heart. A number address environmental issues in a socially inclusive way – for example, there is a scheme in China that provides additional income to low-income farmers by purchasing waste products from their farms as an input to environmentally-friendly product packaging.
The Social Enterprise Business Centre at HKCSS publishes a directory of hundreds of social enterprises in Hong Kong, and offers a matching service to businesses that are interested in procuring from them.
Products & Services
Building inclusive markets involves developing products and services with the needs of diverse customer groups in mind. It ranges from barrier-free access and universal design to products and services designed especially for specific groups – including low-income or ‘bottom of the pyramid’ groups.
Developing inclusive products involves listening to relevant customer groups and understanding their needs. Findings from that engagement may be built into design processes and used to influence the wider value chain and markets. For example, in the development of intermediate and low-cost housing overseas, the finance market plays an important role by providing new types of personal loans and mortgages which enable people to access it.
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