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COMPANY OF GOOD

Growing the culture of giving at Courts

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Stan Kim (in blue), country CEO of Courts Singapore, presenting Mr Raghavan with a rice cooker and an oven, fulfilling his wish to host his family and friends with a Raya-ready home.

Singapore

GIVING back to the community runs deep in Courts' veins, thanks to a steadfast determination to serve the community that comes directly from the top.

Said Terry O'Connor, group CEO of Courts Asia Limited: "Courts has been serving Singapore homes for more than 40 years, and through it all, the spirit of giving back has always been deeply ingrained in our corporate culture, placing community at the heart of all we do.

"In some companies, I feel that corporate social responsibility (CSR) can become too political or calculated or complicated, which veers away from the essence of what it should be all about. At the end of the day, all we really should be doing is asking ourselves: What can we do to help others, and why don't we?"

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A family-oriented retailer with an established 42-year presence in Singapore, the company has over the years supported an array of causes - each revolving around building a family culture.

The group has also made a concerted effort to incorporate employee bonding and engagement as part of their charity outreach efforts - especially since it has seen the positive impact this has had on its own corporate culture. This year, for example, during the Ramadan season, Courts Singapore provided 12 low-income homes with S$10,600 worth of household appliances and furniture just in time for the festive season. Volunteers from Courts also prepared and cooked 90 "Buka Puasa" meals for 20 underprivileged families in the Clementi area. These meals were prepared in Children's Wishing Well kitchen, and distributed to the beneficiaries at Darussalam Mosque.

One family that benefited was Raghavan, a logistics assistant, his wife, Juriah, and two sons, Danial and Mikail. Leading up to Hari Raya, the family had requested a sofa, dining table set, rice cooker and oven. Courts fulfilled the wishes of Mr Raghavan's family to host their family and friends with a Raya-ready home.

Said Mr O'Connor: "Corporate giving is also a great way to foster a sense of volunteerism among our staff and rally them to work together towards a good cause, ultimately leaving a positive and profound impact on the community."

Doing good has also given Courts an opportunity to increase the spirit of togetherness and unity among employees. This has proved advantageous in the war for talent and overall employee morale.

Indeed, the group's philanthropic efforts have come a long way since 2001, when Mr O'Connor began hosting regular charity parties at his home.

It all started when he and his wife Janice were planning a Christmas party, when a close friend died due to breast cancer. Instead of cancelling the party, the O'Connors turned it around and made it a fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Foundation. Friends were charged S$50 each at the door and they raised a total of S$22,000 for charity that year - all attributable to their network of friends.

Since then, Court's reach and influence has grown in engaging partners, suppliers and stakeholders in corporate giving. Their annual Courts & O'Connor's and Friends Charity Dinner has grown organically to leverage the power of corporate partnerships, raising millions of dollars over the years for local charities.

In recognition of Courts' CSR activities, it was awarded the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre's (NVPC) President's Award for Philanthropy in 2014, and Best CSR Efforts by the Singapore Retail Association Retail Awards in 2015.

Today, it is a founding member of NVPC's Company of Good initiative, and takes pride in paving the way for companies to align personal and corporate forms of giving.

  • This article was contributed by NVPC, as part of a series of stories on the business case for doing good.
    The Business Times is supporting NVPC's Company of Good programme as media partner. Visit www.companyofgood.sg for more information.
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