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Unlocking The Potential Of Companies To Do Good, Beyond Financial Performance

We hear from MNCs like Facebook and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and homegrown SMEs like Ang Chin Moh Funeral Directors and Greenpac, share what it means for companies to do good.

This article was written in partnership with the Company of Good (CoG). All views expressed in this article are the independent opinion of and the respective individuals who are featured.

According to a report by human resources consultancy Aon Hewitt, millennials are already the largest generation of workers in Singapore today at 1.2 million. Moving forward, the proportion of them will only increase.

Numerous studies have been conducted to understand what millennials look for in their employees. One recurring requirement is for companies to embody the same values as them. Some raising concerns are environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and a purpose-driven corporate mission.

We hear from five individuals from diverse backgrounds who share unique insights into how their companies have made doing good a part of their DNA, and seen the benefits of contributing to the community on their companies and individuals who work in them:

Elizabeth Runham – Human Resources Director,Asia Pacific, Facebook. She drives Facebook’s People agenda across the whole of Asia.

Viviany Teo – Marketing Executive at Ang Chin Moh Funeral Directors, one of the longest-serving bereavement companies in Singapore, with more than 100 years of history.

Susan Chong – Founder and CEO of Greenpac, a homegrown company that specialises in utilising cutting edge research and development to provide green packaging solutions.

Deon Poh – A millennial pursuing a Bachelor’s in International Relations. Deon worked in Strategic Relations for a non-governmental organisation and went for multiple overseas service-learning trips to broaden her horizons.

Ang Fong Yen – APAC Vice President, CSR, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC). She oversees and coordinates CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities for countries in APAC, and provides advice and direction to various branches.

What is your company’s approach when it comes to hiring and retaining talent?

Elizabeth Runham, Facebook, HR Director for APAC

Elizabeth: “It is refreshing to me to work for a company where everyone is expected to live up to their values and contribute to the shared mission.

Our greatest focus isn’t so much around hiring and retaining talent, although that is critical of course, but it is scaling our culture. Facebook’s culture defines all that we do; it drives every decision, big or small. We have a very strong philosophy that hierarchy doesn’t matter – and our way of innovating and communicating reflects that.”

Susan: “I think having a green mission has helped with recruitment, since many millennials I’ve come across are looking for a job that is purpose-driven. Millennials make up about 20% to 30% of our 45-person workforce at Greenpac today.

When you hire right and have a workforce that shares a common passion for the community, it is surprisingly easy to mobilise them to work on CSR initiatives.”

How does your company foster a giving culture within the company?

“When management takes the lead in contributing back to society, it sets the tone for the other staff to recognise volunteerism as a company value.” – Viviany Teo, Ang Chin Moh Funeral Directors

Viviany: “In Ang Chin Moh Funeral Directors, giving is practised among the top management team. Our chairman is very much involved in our community activities, by giving back with his time and energy. This results in positive ripple effects from ground up, and in turn inspires the staff to pro-actively think about how to help beneficiaries.

To encourage staff involvement in CSR activities, ACM allows volunteering during working hours. Special arrangements are also made to allow operations staff to attend activities without worrying that they would be called back to work at the last minute.”

Susan: “For Greenpac, we’ve incorporated community service into our employees’ Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and appraisals. We want to build goodness and volunteerism into our organisation’s culture, and to recognise the efforts employees make towards CSR activities and even when they are going the extra mile for their fellow colleagues.”

Susan Chong, Founder and CEO of Greenpac

What are the biggest benefits of integrating CSR into a company’s mission?

Foong Yen: “Aside from the obvious boost to the company’s branding and image, CSR gives our organisation the opportunity to give back to the society and environment.

CSR activities allow SMBC to cultivate our staffs’ concern for and consideration of the environment, which has intangible but important benefits. As we also encourage our staffs’ family members to join the activities, it serves as a great opportunity for them to build stronger bonds over a good cause.”

Viviany: “I’ve seen how volunteering helps staff across departments to bond better and learn more about each other. Through running activities for the elderly, we grew closer as a company and even discovered hidden talents among colleagues!

For example, when we organised a portrait session for residents at a hospice so they would have beautiful, dignified photos of themselves, every one in the company pitched in. The ladies helped do hair and make-up, while some held performances and interacted with the elderly to keep them occupied while they wait for their turn. We  were also pleasantly surprised by a colleague who was normally quiet and shy actually could dance really well!”

Deon Poh, pursuing a Bachelor’s in International Relations

Deon: “Through community service activities, I gained better insights into some of the underlying social issues of Singapore. I believe it enables youths to think of more creative and innovative solutions that can be implemented at the community level and then the broader society.”

What do you think are the greatest challenges or obstacles for Singaporeans to give back to the community?

Foong Yen: “While I believe majority of employees are keen to take part in our CSR activities, the fast-paced and hectic nature of the banking and financial sector means that time is a scarce and precious commodity.

This is precisely why companies have such an important role in initiating and encouraging giving by providing opportunities and resources for employees to give back to society despite their busy schedules.

As a multi-national bank, we have staff from various cultures and heritage. When planning our CSR activities, I also need to find common ground that locals and expatriates alike can identify and easily connect with, in order for the activities to have greater meaning and impact.”

“Companies have such an important role in initiating and encouraging giving by providing opportunities and resources for employees to contribute to society despite their busy schedules.” – Ang Foong Yen, SMBC

Inspired To Help Your Company Be A Greater Force for Good?

Every company, no matter the size, has the power to instil a giving culture and impact the community. Such efforts go a long way in attracting and retaining top talent, who are seeking for a purpose beyond meeting organisational goals.

To help companies give better in Singapore more strategically and sustainably, Company of Good (CoG) was launched in 2016 by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), in partnership with the Singapore Business Federation Foundation (SBFF), and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth (MCCY).

If you’re inspired to transform your company into a Company of Good and grow a culture of giving, check out their website to gain access to a myriad of corporate giving resources. You can also connect with a community of like-minded business leaders and practitioners, and network at their events, roundtables and workshops.

Your actions might just inspire other companies to do good!