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COMPANIES should work together to give in order to not only do good, but also as part of business strategy, said a panel discussing the topic, "Goodness is the business of every organisation", at the launch of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre's (NVPC) Company of Good (COG) programme on Thursday.
The panel consisted of senior executives from three of COG's founding member companies, and Ann Florini, professor of public policy at Singapore Management University. It was moderated by Steven Chia, a Media- Corp presenter and editor.
The panel discussed whether businesses such as SMEs that might not have the resources for corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects could team up with other SMEs or larger organisations to carry out such projects - since CSR benefits companies by allowing them to build stronger relationships with customers, and to attract and retain talent.
Prof Florini said: "I think they should start by ensuring that they don't try to do it on their own. The companies that tend to be successful on this journey are ones that realise this is not something they have to figure out by themselves. So you have things now like Company of Good as a great starting point to have a conversation."
She added: "Go find a local charity, talk to people who are in that field, who know something about what the needs are. Have a conversation that helps you uncover what you need to know (to engage in CSR)."
The COG programme provides businesses with the resources, knowledge and network to improve their corporate giving efforts.
Prof Florini added that CSR activities where businesses engage with their customers are great means of uncovering business opportunities. "The more you know of the community in which you are operating - the more you are engaged particularly in the kind of integrated giving that is related to your business model - the more you can understand what your future opportunities might be. It's a fabulous means of information gathering."
When asked how employees can find more time for volunteering, StarHub CEO Tan Tong Hai argued that companies have a part to play by incorporating volunteering into company policies. "In a way, we give you time. But we also organise (charitable) activities," he said, citing StarHub's policy of giving its employees two days' leave every year for volunteering, "In a way, this cannot be done on your own time basis."
On the impact of StarHub's policy to support volunteering, Mr Tan said: "I saw a big impact when employees are not just given the time, but also have programmes organised for them. You find that, through this process, the employees socialise and they are happy."
The panel also discussed the presence of Millennials in the workforce and how companies can use CSR policies to attract and retain them.
Lim Siong Guan, group president of GIC Pte Ltd, explained that companies should take into account the idealistic mindset of Millennials for the future of their own companies when deciding whether to run CSR projects, as Millennials are entering the lower levels of leadership in all organisations now and are eager to participate in CSR efforts.