NetEase is an internet technology company that was founded in 1997. It is incorporated in the Cayman Islands and headquartered in China. The company’s products include online and mobile games, video and music streaming, social media and e-commerce. In 2020, there were around 120 million monthly users active on its search engine, Youdao.
NetEase partnered with UNESCO for its YouthMobile Initiative which teaches young people in China coding for creating sustainable development apps. The company supports distance learning in China through its One Screen programme by donating hardware and software to primary and secondary schools benefiting over 12,000 students.
NetEase demonstrates best practice in through its high-level commitment to cybersecurity and its inclusion of data privacy in its public policy statements. In the area of child online protection, within its privacy department, the company has employees who are fully dedicated to protecting children’s online information. NetEase supports collaboration on the development of industry wide safety standards for children’s online gaming.
Little evidence was found regarding NetEase’s activities to make digital technologies widely available, affordable and accessible. The company can more clearly show how it contributes to universal and affordable access to digital technologies, supports digital opportunities for women and girls, and makes digital products accessible for people with disabilities. NetEase can also demonstrate how it distributes its direct economic value among stakeholders.
NetEase has an opportunity to broaden its support for digital skills development, especially intermediate and technical digital skills, among vulnerable and under-represented groups. The company should consider carrying out a third-party assessment of the impact of its existing programmes on advancing digital skills. It could also report on its contribution to those programmes.
Compared to industry peers, NetEase is less transparent about how it assigns senior-level oversight and accountability for cybersecurity and how it monitors, remedies and reports cybersecurity incidents. Given NetEase’s gaming products are used by children, the company should make a high-level commitment to ensuring children are safe online.
Little evidence was found of the company’s activities relating to open, inclusive and ethical innovation. NetEase has an opportunity to disclose more in this area including the number of its women employees working in R&D as well as the ethical guidelines if follows for product 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.
NetEase does not commit to respecting human rights or the ILO core labour rights in a publicly available policy statement. The company does have a grievance mechanism that is accessible to workers to raise human rights concerns and complaints, but it is unclear if this mechanism is accessible to external stakeholders. The company states that it engages with various stakeholders, but it does not specify that it engages with stakeholders whose human rights could be impacted by its operations. NetEase does not disclose a process to identify, assess and take action on salient human rights risks its own operations and business relationships.
NetEase discloses the proportion of employees in different employee categories by gender. No other policies or commitments related to providing and promoting decent work were found in the public domain.