SHANGHAI, Dec. 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm, today announced it has released the China Best ESG Employers Award list for 2023, with 23 organizations awarded 'Best environmental, social and governance (ESG) Employer' and another eight earning individual awards for outstanding performance in their specific fields.
The award recognizes businesses accelerating ESG practices while striving to enhance their employee value proposition beyond employee experience and engagement.
The launch of the inaugural China Best ESG Employers Award last year was well received by the business community, as ESG is increasingly seen as a key to success. Enterprises are pursuing high-quality and sustainable growth through driving organizational optimization and agile operation models, as well as focusing on technological innovation with a view to expanding globally.
In assessing the China Best ESG Employers Award recipients, Aon implemented a rigorous review of the 225 participating companies over a six-month period through a questionnaire, employee survey and leadership interviews across four areas: responsibility, maturity, resilience and agility.
How a company integrates and upholds its ESG commitments and how it influences its respective industry, clients and employees is an essential component in assessing the China Best ESG Employer Awardees. This year's survey revealed more than half of the participants noted clear requirements concerning ESG or sustainability initiatives, such as using recyclable materials or meeting certain labor force criteria. Among the Best ESG Employer awardees, 82 percent revealed that employees are important partners of ESG practices. It is clear that embedding ESG into corporate culture is essential to help employees understand and implement their purpose.
In conducting this year's survey, Aon also employed the use of an advanced neurological survey tool to more accurately capture the reliability of participants' responses. Interestingly, the tool found there was a disparity between some participants' responses versus what they actually believe to be true. For example, in one question company employees were asked whether 'sustainable development is one of the key strategies of my company' with 85 percent answering that it was. However, in tracking how long it took the respondent to answer the question it was determined only 73 percent actually strongly believed this. The gap widens further on questions regarding the consideration of the environment in business decisions, as well as managing ESG effectively. It is clear that there is still a way to go to help employees recognize and support their company's ESG practices and sustainable growth strategy.
Many companies have recognized the importance of ESG since last year's awards and have already initiated discussions or created plans around ESG issues. Aon found that multinational corporations tend to develop their ESG purpose at their headquarters and optimize it to better fit local markets. For example, in China the inclusion and diversity focus might be more on age diversity rather than gender.
For companies in China, ESG concerns may instead be focused on establishing China's ESG evaluation system, which is a challenge for all companies while also considering the need for high-quality and balanced development. However, Aon's survey results showed that the daily management of ESG targets is not widely recognized by employees. For example, only 63 percent of employees agreed that 'management is responsible for implementing ESG targets' while 56 percent agreed that the 'leadership team has necessary skills to achieve ESG targets.' The ratio is slightly higher for Best ESG Award winners, reaching 71 percent and 65 percent respectively, demonstrating that companies still have a long way to go in terms of their maturity around ESG.
Resilience and Agility
Both resilience and agility are a focus for organizations today: resilience can help companies to face risks while agility can help seize opportunities. In this year's survey, more than 60 percent of participants claimed to adjust their organizational structure once a year, and 35 percent adjust it every six months. These changes are driven by the pursuit of faster responses, better products and smoother communications.
When evaluating resilience and agility, Aon focuses not only on the organization's performance, but also the health and wellbeing of employees, such as engagement and dedication to their work, understanding of strategy, ownership of performance and willingness to engage in long-term development. This year's awardees demonstrated a commitment to employee wellbeing, offering practical benefits for housing and retirement, incentive measures to unite and inspire employees, and the willingness to structure and reshape their workforce by reskilling or retraining staff.
Peter Zhang, head of Aon's Talent Solutions for Asia Pacific and chairman of the judge committee of China Best ESG Employers Award, said: "Many companies focus on the short-term and consider ESG a 'nice to have'. However, more and more organizations are realizing that the way they address ESG issues will be key to their long-term resilience and success, because at the core of ESG is high-quality and sustainable growth."
2023 China Best ESG Employers Award List
(in alphabet order)
2023 China Best ESG Employers
IHG Hotels & Resorts
KINGDOM HOLDINGS LIMITED
KWEICHOW MOUTAI GROUP
OCBC Bank Limited
2023 China Best ESG Employers – Individual Awards
Beyondsoft – Diversity Award
Fresenius Medical Care China – Social Committement Award
Hasten Biopharma – ESG Seed Award
Ipsen China – Evolving Award
Jotun Cosco – Innovation Award
Orange Connex – Agility Award
Royal FrieslandCampina China – Social Responsibility Award
Watsons China – Health & Wellbeing Award
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 Best employer from ESG perspective, which more focuses on "S" and "G" and not "E".