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Do good when doing well

THIS WEEK'S TOPIC: How can businesses integrate corporate giving with business strategy?

Samuel Tsien
Max Loh

THIS WEEK'S TOPIC: How can businesses integrate corporate giving with business strategy?

Samuel Tsien
Group CEO

IT is important that businesses see corporate giving as more than just donations and charitable community acts. They must see it as a core corporate value of care for the community in which they serve and prosper, and that the externality benefits that come along will add "social value" to their product and service offers which will create enduring competitive advantages for them.

OCBC integrates corporate giving with business strategies - for example, imparting financial literacy skills to the young as part of our wealth management business, institutionalising sustainable financing in our lending business.

Max Loh
Asean and Singapore Managing Partner
Ernst & Young LLP

COMPANIES increasingly recognise that corporate giving can drive returns on reputation, relationship and revenue; yet their efforts can be unfocused and piecemeal. Companies should fundamentally first define their purpose, which serves to underpin their decisions on business strategy and giving.

Viewing through a "purpose lens" will steer the needed integration. Apart from monies, an organisation's most valuable assets are its time, people and network. When the spirit of giving is embedded into and leveraged through these assets, there is then a natural, sustainable nexus between doing business and giving.

For example, how do we, through institutionalised policies and systems, empower our people to use their time and skills in the communities? How do we, in the course of business, use our reach and influence to convene dialogues and actions on giving?

Justin Chiah
Director and General Manager,
South-east Asia and Taiwan
Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

AS businesses today strive to meet their business objectives and be profitable, they must not overlook the need to balance doing well with doing good. Rather than regard corporate philanthropy as simply good citizenship, businesses should instead embrace corporate social responsibility and employ these initiatives throughout the firm's operations, starting from inculcating the right values in employees.

They need to intelligently tap the passion, creativity and energy of employees to give back to the community in which they operate. When philanthropic initiatives are driven, actively and collectively, by a workforce that sincerely wants to make a difference, businesses find they will inherently generate a reservoir of goodwill and reap returns.

Seah Kian Peng
NTUC FairPrice

INCREASINGLY, businesses are creating a culture of corporate philanthropic engagement and interaction as part of business strategy.

At FairPrice, we have adopted a systematic and sustained approach in giving via our FairPrice Foundation as well as developed a structured and regular Staff Volunteering Programme.

We are also constantly introducing new initiatives to engage the public and our customers to join us in doing good for the community. For example, as part of our CSR-centric business focus, we donate unsold but wholesome groceries at our stores to the less fortunate in our society. This helps in our overall sustainability efforts towards food waste reduction.

Judy Hsu
CEO, Singapore
Standard Chartered

TO us, corporate giving is about contributing to what matters most to our community and rallying our employees behind it. Four years ago we launched "Silver Lining" to address issues faced by our rapidly ageing population. We fund programmes to promote active and healthy ageing and our employees volunteer their time.

Corporate giving through volunteering is also a key driver for employee engagement. In 2015, 97 per cent of our employees surveyed told us that volunteering contributed to their job satisfaction. Last year, employees chipped in 4,460 volunteering days, a 15-fold increase from 2007.

Bringing people across the bank together to do good completes our role in the community and demonstrates what "Here for good" is about.

Pascal Lambert
Group Country Head, Singapore and Head of Corporate & Investment Banking, South-east Asia
Societe Generale

CORPORATE giving presents opportunities for foreign companies such as ours to support the local community in Singapore and the region. We believe that corporate social responsibility (CSR) benefits our business and it is prioritised as one of our global group objectives. It is core to our corporate culture, encouraged and driven by our most senior executives.

CSR initiatives serve as a powerful platform to engage our clients, employees and partners on a common cause, helps build relationships and reinforces our commitment within the local community.

We strongly believe in the correlation between our CSR efforts and team work, staff motivation and attraction to potential employees. It supports our image and reputation, and ultimately has positive impact on the business.

Victor Mills
Chief Executive
Singapore International Chamber of Commerce

MANY businesses have corporate giving as an integral part of business strategy. This is not about altruism. In part, it is to be seen as a trusted member of the community from which a business earns its revenue.

In part, it is to differentiate and gain a competitive advantage over businesses in the same sector.

It is also to meet the expectations of younger workers. They expect their employers to be a company of good and to provide them with opportunities to volunteer. It's important that all this giving is targeted at those who really need it and that no one group or area is over-served.

Goh Swee Chen
Shell Companies in Singapore

FOR 125 years, Shell has contributed to Singapore's economic, community and talent development. Rather than perform one-off giving, we believe in and have been creating long-term social investment programmes with the right community partners.

That's how we have been championing Road Safety; STEM education and marine biodiversity, delivering them through partners, aligned with our business strategy.

Internally, we provide Shell staff two days off each year to do volunteering work, enabling them to meet and support community groups as part of employee engagement. With this collaborative approach, we raised funds earlier this year to develop educational programmes for children from underprivileged families.

Terry O'Connor
Group CEO
Courts Asia Limited

COURTS is honoured to be a founding member of Company of Good - a strong testament to our commitment to the community. Retail is a business that is people-driven, and keeping a workforce engaged and vested in the organisation is a vital cog to its success.

We have found that CSR and the various ways employees can be involved have been beneficial in stoking employee engagement, bonding and teamwork that ultimately impact the wider business and talent strategy.

Additionally, serving the community consistently has been a meaningful way to inculcate our customer-focused philosophy, and our efforts are amplified by leveraging our core competencies, resources and network, whether it is to raise funds, generate sponsorships or create awareness for the causes we are passionate about.

Our CSR agenda has also resonated with the Gen Y workforce, who want to find deep personal meaning in their work.

Karl Hamann
Chief Executive Officer
QBE Insurance (Singapore) Pte Ltd

INTEGRATING corporate giving with business strategy represents an authentic way for businesses to create lasting and meaningful impact on the communities they operate in.

Instead of looking at CSR initiatives in a siloed fashion, where they exist as individual projects that companies embark on, corporate goodwill should be ingrained to be part of the company DNA - a part of who they are.

We launched QBE Foundation in 2011, mirroring our insurance role in the community - assisting people where they find themselves in need. This is done through scholarships, environmental initiatives, and also within our own company, empowering our staff.

Dipal Patel
General Manager Pharmaceuticals
Glaxosmithkline Singapore

BEING a responsible business is embedded into the heart of GSK's core business strategy - we believe this is the best way to ensure that we remain responsive to society's needs.

As a founding member of the Company of Good, GSK has well established, long-term responsible business commitments in Singapore, which reflect both local and global health needs, and sit across four key focus areas: Health for all, Our behaviour, Our people and Our planet. We believe strongly that our business, values and social mission are all inextricably linked and together they guide the way we operate in all aspects.

Ronald Lee
Managing Director

I AM in favour of corporate giving that goes beyond the monetary and is instead more holistic in approach.

It would be ideal if the spirit of giving can permeate the company DNA, where employees feel a genuine desire of wanting to give of their time to contribute back to society, rather than it be simply an organisational mandate "forced" upon them.

Certainly, this is easier said than done, and requires a savvy hand in cultivating the right corporate culture. I believe that successful engagement in this area will feed into the greater business strategy, and help create a workforce that is more engaged.

Lynette Seah
CEO and Founder

BUSINESSES can approach corporate giving in many ways - with their time, talent or donations in money or kind. The key is not how much to give, but how to give most effectively - often achieved by giving products and services within the business's area of expertise.

For example, Alpha7 has conducted free workshops to help Singapore businesses digitalise and increase productivity; our way of giving back to the community with our skills. We also encourage employees to pursue their own causes with our "Make a Difference" corporate giving initiative, where our employees volunteer up to five days a year with charities of their choice.

Kai Y Chan
President, Asia-Pacific
Carlson Wagonlit Travel

WHILE in the past corporate philanthropy and a company's business strategy were often viewed as competing objectives with opposite effects on the bottom line, in recent years, more companies - including ours - have realised this doesn't have to be the case.

"Strategic giving" - where a company has a well-defined CSR strategy aimed at improving the overall business environment in which it operates - benefits both the community and the company's bottom line in the long run, and is a better approach than ad-hoc philanthropy used just as a marketing tool.

At CWT, we seek to make a meaningful difference in the communities where our people live and work, in the areas of education, emergency and essential needs. Communities that are educated, healthy, safe and motivated create more productive locations for us to operate in.

Joe Manning
Vice-President, Pacific Asia
Abbott Nutrition International

RESPONSIBLE and sustainable business plays an important role in building a healthier society here in Singapore and around the world. By aligning our philanthropic efforts to our business, we can apply our science and the specialised expertise of Abbott employees to help people build better lives and stronger communities.

One example is our work to advance science education here in Singapore. Our volunteers have engaged more than 1,000 students and parents through community programmes that aim to spark an interest in science and engineering among young people - with the broader goal of inspiring the next generation of innovators and inventors.

Dan Marjanovic
Singapore Office Country Head
Simmons & Simmons

INITIATIVES that encourage greater corporate engagement in the support of civic-minded activities for the public good are to be commended. It makes for better and stronger companies and leadership and a more holistically satisfying working environment.

Just like many of our clients, international law firms, such as Simmons & Simmons, contribute through our own corporate responsibility initiatives. Our firm's CR contributions include a long history of providing pro bono support and we support initiatives around the environment, diversity and social inclusion, often collaborating with NGOs, charities and not-for-profit organisations.

We also actively encourage our lawyers and partners to become involved, no matter at what stage of their career, and we are pleased that our people are very willing to do so.

Lee Fook Chiew
Chief Executive Officer
Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants

BUSINESSES should align their philanthropic efforts with their social and economic goals. As a case in point, ISCA established ISCA Cares, a charity and institution of public character in 2015 to mark ISCA's and the accountancy profession's celebration of SG50.

ISCA Cares has two key thrusts: to provide disadvantaged youth with access to education in accountancy, and to harness the skills of the accountancy community to contribute to community development.

ISCA Cares represents the efforts of the Institute as the national accountancy body, as well as the profession, to build a compassionate and caring accountancy community that actively contributes towards the betterment of society.

This is also a natural extension of the profession's responsibility of acting in the public interest. In today's strong civic-minded world, corporate social giving is another facet of our vision of being a globally recognised professional accountancy body.  

Tan Mui Huat
President and CEO, Asia
International SOS

BUSINESSES can attain sustainable growth through commitment to causes that are consistent with and appropriate to their business activities and operations.

Keeping business travellers and international assignees healthy and safe is our core business and by natural extension, our corporate giving focuses on health care and education - with different cultures and local needs driving our support in each market.

To better coordinate our giving in the 90 countries we operate in, International SOS Foundation was founded in 2011 to conduct research and education on duty of care, travel risk mitigation and work health.

The Foundation helps employers to better meet their responsibility objectives by sharing best practices and raising awareness of the need to reduce illness, accidents and personal incidents in the workplace and abroad.

Richard Hoon
Centre for Fathering

CHARITIES are already handicapped - with limited resources - and for them, expending time in fund-raising efforts is detrimental to the success of their cause.

Concerned corporations can start the ball rolling by instilling corporate social responsibility or charitable KPIs into their key executives' responsibilities.

Once that is done, executives will find creative ways to adopt charitable causes, thereby discovering that good corporate giving makes not only good business sense, it will also help employees develop societal care and concerns for the underprivileged.

Whatever gets measured gets done!

Gary Tom
President, Asia-Pacific
Walton International Group

COMPANIES are increasingly finding that corporate giving is aligned with their business strategy. The activities they undertake can result in lasting benefits.

Externally, they attract new customers, improve the confidence of potential investors, build brand and customer loyalty, improve corporate image and bond with the community they operate in.

For example, as a company involved in land development where housing communities are eventually built, Walton with its HQ in Canada carries out projects that impact the underprivileged, the arts, education and sports sectors.

Internally, when our staff built schools in China and engaged with Boys' Town in Singapore, they feel motivated and committed.

Additionally, it improves internal communication within the company and generates a strong culture of shared values.

John Keung
Chief Executive Officer
Building and Construction Authority

WHEN it comes to corporate giving, we can be more innovative, by first understanding the needs of the charitable organisations and then applying relevant resources to meet their needs, which may go beyond just donations.

The built environment sector is best placed to help with building improvement and repair works to improve the living environment.

Hence, BCA has been leading the collaboration with industry stakeholders such as the Singapore Contractors Association Limited (SCAL) to bring together expertise and resources needed to carry out such improvement works for the benefit of voluntary welfare organisations and their members.

In this way, we tap the sector's expertise and integrate corporate giving with business strategy to help develop an inclusive built environment.

Ng Tian Beng
Vice-President & Managing Director, South Asia & Korea

CORPORATE giving is more than doing the right thing. It's about building a better business through innovation, better utilisation of resources and creating efficiency without compromises.

Some 72 million children worldwide lack education due to inaccessibility to proper facilities, teachers and technology. At Dell, we are committed to putting technology and expertise to work where it can do the most good for people. We have a youth learning initiative for underserved communities and work with the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled in Singapore (MINDS) to provide technology-based learning to arm youth with intellectual disabilities with better employment opportunities in the future.

By empowering our employees to give back to society, we also see higher employee engagement and satisfaction scores. This is a call to every organisation to dig deep, disrupt and innovate for better business outcomes and to create a positive future for our community.

Apurvi Sheth
Managing Director
South-east Asia Emerging Markets and Joint Ventures

DIAGEO aims to make a sustainable difference to the societies in which we operate and we are committed to engaging in an impactful way within the broad communities with whom we work.

Women's empowerment is one of our strategic priorities and we understand that when women have access to education and learning, there is a powerful ripple effect that positively impacts society around them.

We launched our Plan W community investment programme in Singapore in 2012 and it has succeeded in empowering around 200,000 women and impacting over a million people to date in 17 countries in Asia, giving opportunities to learn and develop skills to be able to influence society and the economy.

Alfie Othman
Executive Director
Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE)

BUSINESSES should pursue corporate giving as an initiative that is aligned to their business objectives, integrated in practice, and driven by a common purpose.

One way to do this is to engage all stakeholders, including staff, to work closely with social enterprises, businesses with a core of meeting social needs, by sharing business expertise, leveraging core competencies to enhance capabilities, and providing relevant resources.

raiSE connects with its fast-growing, diverse base of more than 300 social enterprise members to forge partnerships that ultimately fulfil critical social goals. This offers a different experience of corporate giving that allows for mutual growth and amplified social impact.

Karen Kooi
Chief Executive Officer
M1 Limited

AT M1, we recognise the positive impact that communications technology can have on improving people's lives, especially for the underprivileged and underserved segments. Over the last two years, we have been working with government agencies to help low-income and needy households in their transition to digital free-to-air TV, provide subsidised high-speed fibre broadband and mobile broadband connectivity. We believe these initiatives will help to narrow Singapore's digital divide and enable even more people to enjoy the benefits that technology brings.

Lim Soon Hock
Managing Director

"NO time" should never be an excuse for not giving. We can all give the gift of time to those who need it most. No effort is too small and no skill or action too insignificant.

Lack of time is often cited as a reason for a company not to give. In the time-impoverished business world, the Company of Good programme helps companies find time for purposeful and smart giving. Employees participate in a sustained programme, through the gift of time, to offer talent that many charities need, in addition to donations.

CEOs must believe that "goodness is the business of every organisation" and allow time for this. Businesses can then easily integrate corporate giving with business strategy, and tap government funding to defray costs.

(Note: Lim Soon Hock is also a board member of NVPC)

Tim Oei
Chief Executive Officer

TODAY consumers are becoming more socially conscious. They appreciate companies that give in big or small ways through their business.

Besides direct giving of money, employers can encourage giving through skills-based volunteering by supporting such staff efforts during office hours, and for any cause they wish to support. They can also identify opportunities where the company and the community can collaborate in developing long-term programmes to bring about social change that are aligned with the company's mission.

Companies that wish to embark on meaningful and impactful giving can also consider indirect giving through strategic partnerships with like-minded non-profit organisations to help develop their core corporate functions.

Jayajyoti Sengupta

BUSINESSES must ensure that "giving" is driven by a real vision for the long-term benefit of the communities within which they operate. Businesses must clearly articulate the objectives of their corporate philanthropy programmes, set challenging goals that drive meaningful action and impact, implement corporate best practices, and benchmark outcomes against the best standards.

Equally important is that businesses adopt a participatory approach by engaging and leveraging the passion, skills and experience of the workforce through volunteering to add value to their "giving" initiatives. Integrating corporate giving with business strategy is about bringing in greater commitment, discipline and professionalism to corporate philanthropy.

Derrick Chang
Chief Operating Officer
PSB Academy

BUSINESSES have to set their sights on a social mission that is sustainable and achievable with employee skillsets, tools and connections that are readily available, in order to align community-driven initiatives with larger business outcomes.

At PSB Academy, our mission is to equip students with an industry-ready education so they are armed for the modern workforce. Programmes such as our Accessable Initiative for example, allow us to leverage existing partnerships with co-operatives and community services, to open doors and empower aspiring students in our community to pursue their dreams of a higher education, through scholarships, bursary grants and financial aid.

We believe these efforts allow us to give better and more holistically, by fulfilling a legitimate community need for all to gain access to quality higher education so they can be gainfully employed, while helping the school to meet its business objectives.

Toby Koh
Group Managing Director
Ademco Security Group

ADEMCO believes in corporate citizenship and contributing back to the society where we conduct business in. It is important for companies to share their resources with the community.

Employees want to be part of an organisation that cares - not just for its staff but also for the community. Corporate giving, no matter small or large, will rally the team together and give more purpose to corporate goals. This may then in turn spark individual giving too.

A sharing nation will keep our social fabric strong and our racial cohesiveness tight, both of which are vital for Singapore's long-term security.

Patrick Liew
Managing Partner
Greenpro Capital

BUSINESSES should not be a burden to the community but a net contributor to its well-being. This includes selling value-added goods and services in a responsible and fair way, creating and sharing wealth equitably, and respecting the rights of stakeholders.

Businesses can also use their knowledge, competence, and other resources to help resolve social problems that are related to their business mission. They can also leverage on their strengths to help bridge and bond communities and build positive relationships.

For example, a computer company can offer to teach students how to use its software to improve their productivity and lifestyle. In doing so, it is not only contributing to educational development, it is also grooming the next generation of potential customers.

Annie Yap
Group Managing Director
AYP Group

AS businesses, it is important to give back to our community. We should be mindful that our stakeholders include also the community at large. Corporate giving has the potential to shape public perception of the brand, and can result in a positive brand reputation for the business. Integrating corporate giving into the business strategy helps us to create a sustainable corporate brand.

As business leaders, we need to learn how to align our corporate responsibility with our long-term goals. Of late, corporate giving has taken on an additional dimension. Businesses tend to adopt corporate giving as an approach to remain competitive. 

Tan Chong Huat
Managing Partner
RHTLaw Taylor Wessing

SOME may feel that in times of crisis, businesses cannot afford to invest in CSR. However, I believe that the truth is just the opposite. In today's globalised world, the long-term value, strategy and success of businesses are inextricably linked to the integration of economic, social, environmental and governance issues into corporate management and operations. Intelligent organisations know that businesses can never be prosperous if they operate within societies that are unsuccessful.

The RHT Rajan Menon Foundation Charity Golf event has become a regular fixture on our philanthropic calendar. This year over S$260,000 was raised for three worthwhile charities. Together, we can be catalysts for positive change in our community.

David Leong
Managing Director
PeopleWorldwide Consulting Pte Ltd

BEING charitable and philanthropic is a behaviour to be encouraged and the Company of Good movement is a good way to start.

Corporate giving can be integrated into business strategy by infusing the charity element into sales. A certain percentage of sales can be allocated to charity. This tells the staff that while they work hard for their company, their efforts will contribute to charity. Companies can also give staff a day off to volunteer time to charity work.

Charity begins at home. Civic mindedness must start from the heart of the management, and flow to individual staff, to eventually become ingrained.