It might seem an oxymoron that the world’s most admired company can have an image problem. But the backlash that hit Apple in 2010 after a spate of worker suicides at its outsourced assembly plant in Shenzhen, underscored that reputation is now much more than just great products and profits. Ethical behaviour increasingly matters, especially when millions of consumers on social media are ready to be judge and jury.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) risks have now become mainstream, such is their increasing materiality. Today, companies face investor scrutiny on not just how they perform financially, but with stakeholders groups that include employees, suppliers, customers, NGOs, regulators, and the wider community. In Asia employee unrest and tightening environmental standards are emerging as two of the biggest flashpoints.

Already this year in Hong Kong, a 40-day strike by dockers put local hong Hutchison Whampoa under the uncomfortable glare of global media…

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