In recent decades, it has become the belief of many that beyond turning a profit, good corporate citizenship entails taking an interest in the communities in which businesses operate and contributing to their betterment.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes are thus a way for companies to demonstrate this and make good on their commitment to improving society.
When meaningfully implemented, they can impact society positively, be it helping the less privileged or the environment, and strengthen the ties a business has with its community.
Creating an effective CSR programme
What makes a good CSR programme, then? CapitaLand Commercial Trust (CCT) tenants provided tips on what companies should look out for when creating their own projects.
1. Have clear intentions about what you want to achieve.
Companies should have a CSR strategy and purpose that aligns with their values and the nature of their business, while providing benefits to the community.
For Jaguar Land Rover, CapitaGreen, CSR projects should be “all about the people”. This has led the automaker to channel its resources towards underprivileged communities around the world. It has helped improve the lives of isolated communities in East Africa by enabling access to smart solar technologies, while its China Children & Youth Dream Fund has benefited over 250,000 Chinese.
Meanwhile, CapitaLand recognises that its long-term success is intertwined with the well-being of the communities in which it operates. Every year, it allocates up to 0.5% of its net operating profit to CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), which promotes the social growth and development of children in need and strives to improve the quality of life of Singapore’s vulnerable elderly.
Mr Tan Seng Chai, Group Chief People Officer and Executive Director, CapitaLand Hope Foundation, said: “As CapitaLand works to transform city living, it is important to also keep the community’s interests in mind. Corporate giving and staff volunteerism for community development are a key focus of our overall sustainability strategy.”
One effort to promote this was the recent CapitaLand Giving Marketplace, held in July at Capital Tower. This event, which provided a platform for charities and social enterprises to promote their causes to staff and office tenants and raise funds, saw various food and beverage and handicraft stalls selling offerings created by beneficiaries from different communities in need. For every transaction made, CHF donated S$6 to each participating charity, raising a total of S$6,700 in one afternoon.
“As CapitaLand works to transform city living, it is important to also keep the community’s interests in mind”
2. Assess what matters to both your stakeholders and external environment
One way of doing this is to conduct materiality assessments, said South32, CapitaGreen. “We look at a range of sustainability issues and determine which are the most important for us and our stakeholders. Through (this) process, we identify, prioritise and make decisions on the sustainability issues that are most relevant and create plans for addressing them.” This process is undertaken annually as the mining and metals company checks if these issues are becoming more or less significant, and that they are in line with its stakeholders’ expectations.
3. Deploy resources efficiently
Effective altruism is all about the best use of resources to help others, and this means choosing the right partners to work with on projects.
“Collaborating with community partners to develop and manage (our) programmes is a key part of our approach,” said GIC, Capital Tower. This includes partnering Beyond Social Services, a well-established voluntary welfare organisation that helps disadvantaged children and youth, for its GIC Sparks & Smiles (Sparks) programme. Beyond Social Services has helped expand the reach of Sparks, which supports students from low-income households by providing grants for their studies and training by experienced social service professionals. Since its 2015 inception, over 300 students have participated in the programme, contributing a total of 7,500 hours to mentoring other disadvantaged youth.
4. Set clear targets and measure impacts
This helps companies focus their CSR programmes. For example, South32 has set itself a rolling five-year emission reduction target and a long-term goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. These five-year targets are reviewed as the company moves towards its goal. For accountability, progress is reflected in the company’s sustainability report annually.
Give the gift of joy
Make a contribution to society by participating in the annual CCT Gifts of Joy in October. This activity brings the CCT community together while promoting the spirit of giving back. Tenants can adopt the wishes of around 778 children and youth at Rainbow Centre and/or participate in a volunteering activity. Visit capitaland.com/giftsofjoy for more information.