A nation breathlessly awaits to hear whether Go-Go Sex-Bomb Raver Andrew Leung is to become President of the Hong Kong Legislative Council. Traditionally, this is a key position because the holder is the only member of the Council anyone actually listens to. But this might change now – in fact, it could be that the roles are reversed, and everyone will find everyone else fascinating, while Leung goes unnoticed. He will be very good at it.
Also, the South China Morning Post runs its annual ‘Shops blasting air-conditioning into streets’ story for the 37th straight year. There was a time when the shop owners could remember why they forced non-stop gusts of expensive frozen air out of their doors. Their reasoning was not totally stupid – there was a sort of logic to it, but now it’s all forgotten, and they just do it anyway.
The other perennial theme – noted yesterday – is the Hong Kong Must Do Innovation story. I am delighted to prove that the city does in fact possess a genius for cutting-edge technology and space-age hyper-efficiency, and it has delivered.
A bit of background. All listed companies in Hong Kong must release financial statements every six months. Over the years, the Stock Exchange has imposed more and more, increasingly tedious, requirements on what sort of information companies must disclose in addition to basic accounts like the profit-and-loss, balance sheet and so on. HKEx has made intrusive and even impertinent demands, such as an analysis of why the company performed the way it did during the period, future prospects (like we’re supposed to know!) and even disclosure of how much individual directors are paid or how often they attend board meetings.
Just as these reporting requirements couldn’t get any more onerous, HKEx is now getting hip and trendy, and demanding that companies do something called ESG – environmental, social and governance reporting. Managements must now disclose policies and performance concerning such esoteric banalities as child labour, staff whistle-blowers, carbon footprints and ‘community investment’.
Needless to say, the management have better things to do. The accounts people are clueless about this sort of ‘words’ stuff. The HR woman is too petrified to get involved in anything so important. The corporate communication department can’t help because this is Hong Kong and we don’t have one. Non-compliance isn’t an option – the annual report must have a ‘bunny rabbits’ section.
A dazzling breakthrough – a marvel of modern cyber-whizz-bang tech – comes to the rescue. It’s called ESG Dashboard. You (or actually a spotty accountant) go online and just fill in the numbers. How many staff fled the company’s oppression and bullying last year? Did the supplier’s factory full of nine-year-olds in Bangladesh burn down again? How much did we donate to our much-cherished less-advantaged members of society? Push the button, and out comes your ESG report, looking like the company actually gives a damn. Phew!
Hong Kong – innovation hub – take a bow.