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Changing lives for the better

Samsung staff volunteering at an event for youngsters in Myanmar. The company aims to use its technology to tackle key problems in education, employment and health in an effort to improve the lives of people in the communities it operates in.

A GLOBAL brand that is instantly recognisable, Samsung Electronics is also an organisation that has made concerted efforts in its community outreach and care programmes.

Emphasising that its corporate citizenship initiatives are not fuelled by the motivation for financial gain, the organisation believes that it has a social responsibility to the communities in which it operates. This is a profound commitment given that the company is present in some 80 countries and has a workforce of over 300,000 people. In terms of revenue, it is the second-largest consumer electronics company in the world.

The company's strategy for corporate citizenship is "to deploy our technologies and expertise to address some of the social issues of our time".

Given the company's widespread presence across the globe, its focus and work on community initiatives and projects have been steady and segmented by different markets over an extended period of time.

Corporate citizenship is not a secondary option for this organisation, as it takes the future of communities seriously. Being a global citizen means "we aim to create positive change for people everywhere, helping them to lead better and healthier lives".

This commitment stems from the belief that being a global citizen underpins the company's success. "As a company, we are committed to giving back to the community and we want to do that with what we do best."

The company aims to use its technology to tackle key problems in education, employment and health in an effort to make people's lives better. There are initiatives in place all over the world to help support the economic and social development of the communities in which Samsung operates.

On the educational front, Samsung has equipped schools in over 70 countries with smart devices to bridge the digital divide and help students take advantage of a smarter approach to education. These Smart Schools meet specific local educational needs to enhance their learning environment.

In addition, Samsung has established the Tech Institute in over 34 countries. This move aims to increase the number and quality of technicians, to address the deficiency in technical talent and ultimately meet market employment needs. Helping people to build their skills and earn a livelihood is a reflection of Samsung's recognition of the need to localise citizenship programmes as a response to the needs of particular markets.

With the aim of bridging the digital divide in certain areas, Samsung has partnered schools and libraries to create immersive learning opportunities for students through tailored education programmes as well as enrichment and infotainment content.

Part of taking care of communities also involves being concerned with public and individual healthcare. The company has launched healthcare initiatives in many regions, including China, South-east Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

The impetus for these initiatives was the recognition that these regions lack sufficient medical technologies and trained staff which can have an effect on issues such as infant and maternal mortality.

There are two specific initiatives under this banner: healthcare services in the shape of a Mobile Health Centre for underprivileged areas and the provision of medical training at the "Sono" (short for ultra- sonography) School related to prenatal ultrasound.

The company works closely with hospitals and medical facilities to help reduce infant mortality, providing equipment such as ultrasound systems, educational devices, electronic boards and large-format displays (LFDs). Simultaneously, Samsung works with local medical associations and institutions to design a strong curriculum and operate courses for medical professionals in the fields of ultrasound diagnostics, obstetrics and gynaecology.

Another instance of its efforts is the Nanum Village, also known as the sharing village. This project is aimed at villages in the rural areas of emerging markets. A series of new constructions is carried out, encompassing schools, medical centres and cultural houses. The intention is to empower and improve the lives of the younger generation.

In more developed markets such as Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, the company focuses on investing in the grooming of youth into future leaders. The company has instituted the Solve for Tomorrow competition in these regions, targeted at schools, with the intention of encouraging students to leverage technology innovatively to address social issues and conceptualise solutions for the benefit of local communities. The competition is a reflection of Samsung's dedication to building up the future generation of leaders not just for their sense of responsibility to the community but also for their creativity and innovation.

Over the years, Samsung has refined its expertise and capabilities, resulting in the company being able to maintain its focus on these areas of need. This helps it to use the citizenship programmes with targeted effect and to direct its efforts in addressing pertinent issues in the areas identified.

Corporate citizenship occupies such significance in the company's culture that the company has chartered its Corporate Citizenship Committee within its board of directors. This is to ensure legal compliance around ethical issues, to oversee the company's contributions to promoting public welfare and to provide guidance to initiatives so that they satisfy the ambitious corporate citizenship goals.

The committee, which is made up entirely of independent directors, also heads a subordinate research group made up of experts from a variety of fields. The research group also participates in discussions with the committee. There is a growing recognition within the committee that opportunities exist with which to further broaden Samsung's social contribution programmes through collaboration with external parties.

The company also states that it aims to involve at least 30 per cent of its employees on an annual basis - including leadership and management staff - in its citizenship initiatives. Each country in which the company operates also contains a dedicated citizenship team to ensure these initiatives are maintained and executed. These teams work closely with the Corporate Citizenship lead in South-east Asia and Oceania regional headquarters.

There is a rigorous process in place to evaluate the relevance of these programmes. The process includes research on local issues to help the company better understand how and if these programmes leave a positive impact, and the evaluation of existing policies. Partners and technicians are consulted regularly to advise on the feasibility of these programmes.

Samsung, as a leading global brand, is strengthening its position as a global citizen in leading by example in community care.

Spark Minda, Tesco Lotus

Spark Minda, Ashok Minda Group, based in Indonesia, and Tesco Lotus also won in the Community Care category in which Samsung bagged the best campaign title.

Spark Minda believes that in today's world, an organisation is not judged simply by its market capitalisation but also by what contributions it makes to society, and the impact of these contributions.

The company focuses on six intervention areas: livelihood promotion, education, care for people with disability, community infrastructure, health and well-being, and environment and resource protection.

Meanwhile, Tesco Lotus, one of Thailand's most well-known retailers, has had in place for more than six years a campaign called 365 Volunteer Day. The idea behind this is to remind employees that while they work 265 days a year and have some 100 days off, being a volunteer can be done 365 days a year.

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