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GRI: Interview with Wen Xuelian, Deputy Director of the Corporation Planning Division
China Mobile: Helping build a robust sustainability reporting community in China
GRI Impact Stories are short interviews with representatives from companies that are using the GRI reporting framework to create tangible benefits for their business and stakeholders.
China Mobile Limited is a state-owned telecommunications company and a GRI GOLD Community member. The company published their first GRI report back in 2006. We spoke with Wen Xuelian, Deputy Director of the Corporation Planning Division, responsible for CSR reporting and CSR management at implementation level, who told us that sustainability reporting helps China Mobile improve their performance.
Wen Xuelian: Sustainability reporting is an important part of China Mobile's management systems and development strategy. We use the reporting process to improve our sustainability performance and stakeholder engagement.
How has China Mobile benefited from using the GRI framework and being a member of the GRI GOLD Community?
The GRI framework is one of the best practices in corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting. At China Mobile we have built our CSR management systems by combining elements of the GRI framework with the operational infrastructure that we already had in place. This has helped us keep track of our material sustainability issues and improve our performance.
We joined GRI's Organizational Stakeholder program back in 2013 and have been members ever since, subsequently as a GRI GOLD Community member. The membership has opened up many opportunities for us: We have been able to connect with peers and gained deeper insights to best practices and trends. This has enhanced not only our reporting but also our overall sustainability efforts.
What are some of the challenges China Mobile had to overcome in order to put its CSR management system in place and what did the business learn in the process?
As the largest mobile telecommunications company in the world with more than 460,000 employees, one of the biggest challenges for China Mobile was analyzing and assessing our economic, environmental and social performance and building an improvement cycle accordingly. By establishing a CSR reporting process, we are able to review and disclose key sustainability indicators to reflect the improvement progress on an annual basis. The CSR reporting process has become a fundamental part of our CSR management system, which guarantees the active involvement of both internal and external stakeholders in the process of improving our CSR performance.
Another challenge was quantifying the costs and benefits of our sustainability efforts. Over the years of reporting, we have gradually built up relevant systems and incorporated social and environmental impact assessments into the early stages of business development and introduced external assessment methods for better evaluation.
What are some of the material issues for China Mobile and how is sustainability reporting helping you address them?
Network connectivity, information security, using information to benefit society, energy conservation, emissions, poverty alleviation, employee development and anti-corruption are all material issues for China Mobile. Sustainability reporting is one of the most important channels we have to inform stakeholders of our performance on these topics. Our sustainability reporting efforts have also led us to take additional steps to be more transparent about our operations. For example, China Mobile launched the Green Action Plan in 2007, and has disclosed the specific management approach, progress and targets in our sustainability reports since then. During the implementation of the action plan, our electricity consumption per unit of business volume in 2016 decreased by 94% compared to 2007. We have built over 13,000 new energy base stations, reduced timber use in packaging materials by over 600,000 cubic meters, and introduced smart digital solutions for community emissions reductions. Because of our performance and disclosure, China Mobile is the first and only company from Mainland China listed in CDP’s 2016 Climate A List and received we the Sustainability Leadership Enterprise Model award by CDP (China) for three consecutive years.
China and the entire Asia Pacific region are an emerging market for corporate responsibility. How is the practice developing in China and what role is China Mobile playing in advancing the movement?
Chinese firms are gaining more knowledge and experience in CSR, with support from the government and regulators that call for CSR disclosure. China also announced its national standard of CSR and the national plan on implementation of SDGs. These are positive developments. China Mobile is a giant, central enterprise with an undeniable duty to perform CSR. On the one hand, China Mobile is disseminating our sustainability information and enlarging the impact, to get the community familiar with CSR. On the other hand, we are actively communicating with peers and sharing our experience to help other Chinese enterprises to begin disclosing CSR information. We hope this will help build a robust sustainability reporting community in China.
With the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards, companies are able to unlock the transformative power of transparency, while contributing to the common sustainability agenda and reaping the benefits of increased stakeholder trust. Join China Mobile and hundreds of other organizations in the effort to create a sustainable global economy – become a GRI GOLD Community member today!