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Giving workers a fair shot

Three companies recognised for their fair employment practices talk about the benefits of being socially responsible.

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"Sustainability and doing good is not just for SMEs but every business. Sustainability is imperative to perpetuate doing good; otherwise companies will only be able to do good for a season. Businesses are built to last, so should doing good." - James Quek, MD, MyHelper

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"Our key sustainable impact is through education. We conduct regular corporate lunchtime talks and public talks to educate the public about the healing power of our bodies. We take control of our health by improving the blood flow and energy flow from within, simply by sleeping with our own products." - Veronica Tan, MD, Rev 22

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"As an SME, we don't have the luxuries of capital that big brands have. But capital can't buy the kind of culture we've developed. In order to differentiate ourselves to our customers, and to enable us to recruit the brightest talent, we need to go beyond the cheapest price or highest salary." - Yasmine Khater, founding partner, Vision Strategy Storytelling

AWARD CATEGORY
WORKPLACE: FAIR EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES

MYHELPER
James Quek, managing director

MyHelper is a maid agency that seeks to provide maids with fair employment terms, protect them from unreasonable employers, and alleviate their debt burdens. The company also prepares maids to be self-sustaining after they return to their home country by equipping them with financial literacy and business skills. MyHelper has deployed about 800 maids since its founding in November 2013.

How do you think being a Brands for Good (BFG) award winner will benefit your company?

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JQ: Winning the award is a validation of our best practices over the past five years. It reinforces for our stakeholders and customers that our core values of integrity, fairness and compassion are living values in action.

Why do you think it is important for SMEs to focus on doing good?

JQ: Sustainability and doing good is not just for SMEs but every business. Sustainability is imperative to perpetuate doing good; otherwise companies will only be able to do good for a season. Businesses are built to last, so should doing good.

What are the key CSR measures you have adopted and what impact have these had on your business as well as your stakeholders?

JQ: We have extended comprehensive welfare services to foreign domestic workers (FDW), including taking care of their psycho-social needs and providing opportunities for skills upgrading. Above all, we have successfully created a community for the FDWs so that they have a place they can call a second home.

What other CSR measures are you planning to put in place in the future?

JQ: We hope to be able to provide better financial literacy counselling for the FDWs, helping them with a savings plan and to explore business opportunities when they go back to their respective countries of origin.

REV 22
Veronica Tan, managing director

Rev 22 is a health and wellness company that provides products and services to help people sleep better.

The company employs elderly staff in their 60s and 70s to take on various roles at each of its three outlets. One employee in his late 60s oversees sales at department stores or shopping mall atriums, while another in her 70s is responsible for packaging in the warehouse. The firm believes in empowering seniors to be productive contributors to the business.

How do you think you will benefit from being a BFG winner?

VT: As a winner of a Brands for Good award, we are convinced that Rev 22 is moving in the right direction to keep advocating for the healing power of our bodies.

The award gives our customers the assurance that Rev 22 is a reliable brand that they can confidently advocate to fulfil our long-term vision of creating a world full of healthy, wealthy people.

Why do you think it is important for SMEs to focus on being sustainable and doing good?

VT: It is important for us to do good to help us stay competitive and stay relevant. All successful businesses have to focus on adding value to our customers and the community at large by doing good.

What are the key sustainability or CSR measures you have adopted?

VT: Our key sustainable impact is through education. We conduct regular corporate lunchtime talks and public talks to educate the public about the healing power of our bodies. We take control of our health by improving the blood flow and energy flow from within, simply by sleeping with our products.

What other initiatives are you planning to put in place in the future?

VT: Rev 22 is still very much a local company. We certainly look forward to more distributors with the right vision and passion from overseas to open more Energia centres in their countries. To be able to expand overseas to reach out to a bigger community will help fulfil our company's long-term vision.

VISION STRATEGY STORYTELLING
Yasmine Khater, founding partner

Vision Strategy Storytelling (VSS) is an award-winning storytelling company that works with Asia's best startups and the world's largest brands to create authentic videos so that they can attract more customers, inspire employees, and grow their business. Some of their clients include DBS Bank, GO-JEK, LinkedIn, Club Med, Credit Suisse, Essilor and Procter & Gamble.

Fair employment practices for VSS involves creating an environment where there is respect for the personal and professional lives of employees. We have 100 per cent retention rate of our employees since our inception 11/2 years ago.

How do you think being a BFG award winner will benefit you?

YK: In order to survive the next wave of disruption, it's important for all visionary companies to collaborate, and to change how "business as usual" is carried out. For us, being awarded is a celebration that we are among many other forward-thinking companies that are coming together to build a better future.

Why do you think it is important for SMEs to focus on being sustainable and doing good?

YK: As an SME, we don't have the luxuries of capital that big brands have. But capital can't buy the kind of culture we've developed. In order to differentiate ourselves to our customers, and to enable us to recruit the brightest talent, we need to go beyond the cheapest price or highest salary. Being and doing good helps us build a sustainable business which attracts the right sort of partners and builds the right sort of ecosystem in order for us to thrive.

What are the key sustainability and CSR measures you have adopted?

YK: We are very grateful for building a team of staff members who are all passionate about sustainability. Some staff members care about single use plastic, and hence incorporate those policies in our office. Others are passionate about animal welfare, while a few also run the Singapore eco film festival. All our project work is impactful, so we don't believe it is something separate from the core business.

The impact we have had on our stakeholders is that in our past 11/2 years, we have grown our team by 150 per cent and nearly tripled our revenue in the past year helping impact over 57 clients. I think that's testament for us that being and doing good is the best way to do well in business.

What other sustainability or CSR measures are you planning to put in place in the future?

YK: VSS is bcorp certified and what we love about this holistic certification process is we are re-assessed every two years so we can continue to improve our score. (B-corp or "Certified B" firms are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.)

Our focus for the future is to build on how we treat our staff, our customers, our community to ensure that we are continuously making small shifts to build a better future for VSS and the world.