The Way Forward for CSR in Singapore

Mdm Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament, Singapore spoke about the need for social innovation at the 5th International Singapore Compact CSR Summit opening ceremony.

In its 5th year, the annual International Singapore Compact CSR Summit highlights the growth of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Singapore over the years and looks at the way forward. Organised by the Singapore Compact for CSR, this year’s summit saw over 460 delegates and guests coming together to learn and share ideas and experiences on CSR.

Here are three messages from the summit, which we feel is important in shaping the way forward for CSR in Singapore:

1. Explore beyond CSR to social innovations

In her opening speech, Madam Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament, said that it is heartening to see the growth of CSR in Singapore, where there is now growing awareness of CSR among companies, and it is almost a given for companies to have in place corporate philanthropy and volunteerism programmes to give back to society.

While there is growing awareness and action on CSR, Madam Halimah highlighted that it is time for companies to explore a wider perspective to CSR, moving beyond corporate philanthropy and volunteerism to social innovations.

With widening social and income gaps in Singapore, businesses could explore social innovations to narrow these gaps. This could be in the form of providing services specially for the lower income group and the aged population, encouraging greater socially responsible labour practices, or engaging staff and stakeholder for innovative ideas. Singapore could be the testbed for these social innovations, and later adapting them for applications in other ASEAN countries.

2. Engage with stakeholders on CSR

Another message from the summit is for companies to realise that with our interconnected and instant communication world, the high expectations and scrutiny on CSR issues by stakeholders are here to stay. In his welcome address, Mr Kwek Leng Joo, President of Singapore Compact, highlighted this message and added that stakeholders are increasingly asking: “what value-add are you providing to your people, community and environment?”

With the spread of information in the media, especially social media, Madam Halimah said that “consumers form positive impressions of companies that practice good corporate citizenry and protect the environment, and conversely companies whose operations harm the environment have to contend with displeasure from consumers and pressures from various non-governmental organisations.”

In his keynote presentation, Dr Roel Nieuwenkamp, Chair of OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct, also highlighted the relevancy and need for multinational companies in this region to focus on due diligence and stakeholder engagement, in the context of the OECD Guidelines.

3. Nurturing youths on CSR

Mr Kwek shared that it is important to nurture our youths on CSR as they will soon join the workforce and become our future leaders. Singapore Compact is working with the National Youth Achievement Award Council on the Youth Membership Network to nurture the next generation of CSR leaders and practitioners, and has signed up about 250 student members so far.

Through the CDL-Singapore Compact Young CSR Leaders Award, youth engagement in CSR is also enhanced when the students work on real-life business cases and come up with CSR strategies. This year’s award winners include:

  • 1st Prize: Team Chasers (NTU) for helping Sin Hwa Dee Foodstuff Industries on strategies such as creating awareness on the importance of a healthy diet, and encouraging employees to develop green initiatives through an internal competition.
  • 2nd Prize: Team Springboards (NUS) for helping Matex International Ltd on an online platform to connect stakeholders from different countries and encourage the exchange of CSR ideas.
  • 3rd Prize: Team Endeavour (INSEAD) for helping Asia Capital Holdings Pte Ltd on creating a shared value model to provide insurance security to the underserved communities.

Singapore Compact CSR Awards 2013

Besides looking at the way forward for CSR, the summit also saw winners of this year’s Singapore Compact CSR Awards receiving their awards at the opening ceremony. The winners include:

“Green Champion” Award

  • Winner: Keppel Land Limited
  • Special Mention: Ricoh Singapore

“Best Workplace” Award

  • Winner: Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium

“Caring Employer” Award

  • Winner: Crowne Plaza Changi Airport
  • Special Mention: SPC Wearnes Pte Ltd

“Best Community Developer” Award

  • Winner: NTUC FairPrice

Image credit: Singapore Compact for CSR

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