Established in China in 1999, Alibaba is an e-commerce company. As of March 2021, the company had over 1 billion users worldwide, including 891 million accessing its online shops for the Chinese market: Taobao, a consumer to consumer marketplace, and Tmall, a portal for retailers. The company also owns Lazada, an online retail company operating in Southeast Asia. AliExpress is the company’s online shop for overseas shoppers. In addition, Alibaba operates a global business to business e-commerce portal and a nationwide logistics network in China. Alibaba Cloud is a leading cloud service provider operating in 21 regions around the world.
Alibaba demonstrates support for open innovation by belonging to standards organisations, having a dedicated portal for the company’s open source projects and sharing company data with universities for research purposes. The company supports the technology innovation ecosystem through its venture capital fund.
No evidence could be found that Alibaba undertakes initiatives that contribute to inclusive digital access and opportunities. There is an opportunity for the company to show how it supports universal and affordable access to digital technologies for vulnerable groups, digital inclusivity for women and girls, and digital accessibility for people with disabilities. Alibaba should also demonstrate how it distributes the wealth it creates among its stakeholders.
No evidence could be found that Alibaba undertakes initiatives contributing to the development of basic or intermediate digital skills, or to increase school connectivity. There are opportunities for the company to contribute in these areas.
There is an opportunity for Alibaba to demonstrate commitment to the technology start-up ecosystem through initiatives in addition to its venture capital fund. Alibaba should also demonstrate support for inclusive and ethical innovation by reporting the number of female employees working in technical roles and any steps it is taking to consider ethics in research and development.
Core social indicators
The core social indicators assess societal expectations of business conduct that companies should meet if they aspire to be part of a system transformation that leaves no one behind.
Alibaba has a grievance mechanism that is accessible to both workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints. However, Alibaba does not commit to respecting human rights or the ILO core labour rights. The company does not disclose a process to identify, assess, and take action on salient human rights risks its own operations and business relationships. Moreover, Alibaba does not engage with stakeholders whose human rights could be impacted by its operations.
Alibaba publicly commits to respecting the health and safety of workers, but does not disclose quantitative health and safety information. Furthermore, while the company provides a breakdown of employees in different employee categories by age group, it does not report against any other indicators of diversity. Alibaba is not explicit in stating that it does not require workers to work more than the regular and overtime hours, does not disclose the percentage of its workforce covered by collective bargaining agreements, and does not commit to paying workers a living wage.
While Alibaba has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption and a grievance mechanism for stakeholders to raise concerns and complaints, it does not include anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in contracts with its business relationships. The company does not disclose its approach to lobbying and political engagement; specifically the company does not state that it does not make political contributions and does not disclose its lobbying expenditures. However, Alibaba does disclose a global tax strategy.