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COMPANY OF GOOD

Giving back is part of EY's DNA

It invests in programmes and supports staff to go on non-EY corporate volunteer activities of their choice.

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EY's Project Joy Café in May this year saw employees put their cooking skills to the test, selling homemade meals to fellow colleagues in an effort to raise money for SPD.

Singapore

AT professional services firm EY, community engagement and giving back through its staff is a core part of what the company stands for.

The global firm - which is among the Big Four accounting firms and is headquartered in London - empowers and supports its staff in Singapore to participate in doing good.

It does this by creating platforms to enable staff to give back by investing in formal and informal EY programmes over the course of the year.

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Staff are also supported to go on non-EY corporate volunteer activities of their own choosing, even if these take days or months.

That investment in its people gives EY staff different opportunities throughout the year to volunteer their time, knowledge and skills, enabling them to make a difference in their local communities.

Among one of the larger-scale efforts, EY staff have taken part in is the Walk for Rice programme, in support of the FairPrice Walk for Rice @ South East programme organised by the CDC and NTUC FairPrice Co-operative Limited.

Its Singapore-based partners and staff, together with family and friends, clients and alumni, walk or run together to raise bowls of rice, which benefit low-income families.

Under the programme, for every 200 metres walked, NTUC FairPrice will donate a bowl of brown and white rice each to needy residents living in the South East district. To deliver the rice, EY volunteers will personally go door-to-door.

Persons with disabilities are core to what EY looks after in its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes too. To that end, EY works with SGEnable, an agency under the Ministry of Social and Family Development to match students with disabilities with EY staff to learn more about the corporate work environment, build a better understanding of their own skills and abilities, build professional networks and tap their mentor's wealth of knowledge and work experience.

Under this programme - called the SGEnable RISE Mentoring programme - mentors from EY will coach their charges on writing an effective curriculum vitae (CV), scoring interviews, discovering their career path and also help them form solutions to address any other career-related challenges which the students might encounter.

Doing social good is woven into the company's DNA, and that commitment extends to the firm's annual dinner and dance (D&D). In 2017, the firm partnered charity Lion Befrienders to tap their senior beneficiaries who designed and made masks for the masquerade-themed party.

For the company's D&D this year, EY said it will be giving away tote bags designed by differently-abled people, and also incorporate a "vote and donate towards your favourite performance" element into the D&D programme in support of SPD, a charity organisation helping people with disabilities.

When there's food, there's joy, and EY has taken that saying to heart. Every year, the company turns its office pantry into a cafe to sell food, raising funds for charity.

Over the years, EY said its efforts have gone towards beneficiaries including SPD, and Club Rainbow, which provides assistance to children suffering from chronic or life-threatening illnesses.

To formalise the company's social causes, the chairman of EY's Corporate Responsibility committee welcomes staff suggestions given directly to himself, or to the 15-strong organising committee, who volunteer their time monthly to brainstorm ideas and plan company-wide charitable activities.

Over the years, the firm has seen an "increasing number" of staff expressing interest to be part of the committee, EY said.

According to the company, team building through community-focused projects is becoming "increasingly popular". Staff are actively volunteering to organise team building activities to not only create opportunities for greater staff engagement but to also allow its staff to make a vital contribution to the local community, EY said.

"When EY started out on our giving back journey, we wanted to make it easy for our staff to do good by bringing volunteering opportunities to them, or empowering them to run their own programmes," EY told The Business Times.

To support staff, EY formed policies like EY FlexPro, a working arrangement programme to give staff the flexibility of participating in an EY or non-EY activity of their choice.

If a staff member wants to volunteer at an event at 5 pm, for example, the company will allow that staff member to start work as early as 7.30am, or if a staffer wants to go on a three-month volunteering project, a discussion with a counsellor can be arranged.

"Through this flexible approach, over the years, we have had staff who have been able to pursue their personal interests by going on missionary work in the Philippines or visiting Antarctica to understand how climate change works."

Advisory manager Nia Kurniawati has been actively involved in organising ground-up community activities for the EY Advisory services team. She recalled a special moment at a charity event where she was involved in handing out Christmas gifts to beneficiaries.

"When I see the happy faces of the elderly receiving their gifts - whether it is a big fan or a pack of canned chicken stock - I am reminded of my own grandparents. It makes all the hard work worthwhile," Ms Kurniawati said.

People Advisory Services partner and chairman of the EY Corporate Responsibility Committee Panneer Selvam said the company wants its people to "associate a greater good to the work they do" by applying their individual strengths to help the community.

"Work is not just a job. No matter how long our people choose to stay with EY, we want our people to live a truly exceptional experience with us," Mr Selvam said.

  • This article is part of a series highlighting inspiring companies that are catalysts of change in corporate giving. The Business Times supports the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre's Company of Good programme as a media partner. E-mail us at contact@companyofgood.sg to find out how you can be a Company of Good, or visit www.companyofgood.sg for more information.