Companies in the business of doing good

Besides driving economic stability, firms can catalyse social change through their influence, partnerships, business models


MORE than 40 Singapore-based companies, big and small, convened to recognise the inaugural Champions of Good at Shangri-La hotel on Nov 7. Organised by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), the event - graced by Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat as the guest of honour - recognises businesses for their efforts and commitment in giving back to the society.

Melissa Kwee, CEO of NVPC, said: "Society is facing complex challenges at an unprecedented level, and we believe that businesses have the potential to make a significant difference." Besides driving economic stability, businesses can catalyse social change through their influence, partnerships and business models, she added.

The Champions of Good is a national recognition framework under the Company of Good that was launched by NVPC in partnership with the Singapore Business Federation Foundation in June 2016 to make goodness the business of every organisation. The Champions of Good seeks to recognise leaders in corporate giving who are also influencers and multipliers; and among the winners are CapitaLand Limited, Mastercard and Spic & Span.

CapitaLand's corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities range from profit donation and employee volunteerism to customer integration by providing opportunities for customers to get involved in giving back. The firm has also partnered its tenants at its office properties in Singapore for its annual Gifts of Joy initiative which brings together office tenants and CapitaLand employees to wrap and deliver gifts to underpriviledged children.

Giving back to the community

Lim Ming Yan, president & group chief executive officer of CapitaLand Limited and director of CapitaLand Hope Foundation, said: "Being conferred the Champion of Good status underscores CapitaLand's unwavering commitment to giving back to the community sustainably. CapitaLand recognises that the long-term success of our business is closely intertwined with the health and prosperity of the communities we operate in."

Mastercard's programme focuses on the empowerment of women and girls through education, financial and business literacy programmes. Its initiatives include a partnership with ASKI Global Limited to provide women migrant workers in Singapore and their families in the Philippines with appropriate training and technical coaching on basic entrepreneurship, which may lead to the setting up and growing of family enterprises.

Kate Hegarty, director of communications at Mastercard, said that social causes and issues are not just the responsibility of governments and charity organisations, and that there is a clear role for the private sector to play. "When the private and public sectors come together through partnership, both parties are able to leverage their strengths. At Mastercard, we have global technology that can be used in new ways to innovate and include anonymised and aggregated data and insights that can help inform and educate, and a whole organisation of talented people who are motivated to come to work every day to help make a difference. This is why doing well by doing good is a core part of Mastercard's business philosophy."

Size does not matter when it comes to giving back to society - as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) such as Spic & Span have proved. A commercial and facilities cleaning company in Singapore, the firm centres its hiring processes on creating opportunities for workers from different social backgrounds. Initially, Spic & Span hired mature workers and gradually increased its social outreach to the Yellow Ribbon Project and people with special needs.

When asked about Spic & Span's future plans, director Benjamin Chua said: "Spic & Span is a small company, and we cannot do things alone. We need to build an ecosystem, especially in the SME sector, where we are part of the 99 per cent. We would love to work with other startups and SMEs who have the heart as alone, we can do so little - but together, we can do so much more."

Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes The Business Times, is also one of the Champions of Good.