Next phase of CSR development: social innovation

Singapore’s Speaker of Parliament urges companies to embrace social innovations which could create new business opportunities while helping to narrow the country’s widening income gap.

Halimah Yacob
Singapore Speaker of Parliament, Madam Halimah Yacob, speaking at the 5th International Singapore Compact CSR Summit. Image: Singapore Compact

Singapore’s Speaker of Parliament, Madam Halimah Yacob, on Wednesday urged businesses to look beyond philanthropy and volunteerism to embrace social innovations in the country’s next phase of corporate social responsibility (CSR) development.

Such social innovations could create new business opportunities while providing services that cater to the lower-income and elderly groups, for example, and which could help narrow the country’s income gap in the process.

Speaking at the International Singapore Compact CSR Summit organised by Singapore Compact for Corporate Social Responsibility (Singapore Compact), Madam Halimah also noted how much CSR has grown in Singapore in the past eight years.

When the Singapore Compact was formed in 2005, CSR was considered a “greenfield” area in the corporate world. Today, many companies have CSR programmes in place, she noted.

“Beyond having the appropriate licenses to operate in a country, corporations also need the social license to operate the communities,” she said in a speech to 460 guests and delegates.

Singapore Compact president Kwek Leng Joo, who is also managing director of listed property firm City Developments Ltd (CDL), echoed this sentiment when he noted that “there is a need to radically re-look at how we do business” given the fast-changing global landscape, maturing economy and civil society.

“We are inevitably gravitating towards an environment that rewards sustainable business practices,” he said at the opening ceremony of the two-day summit at the Raffles City Convention Centre.

“I believe that CSR is the answer to business sustainability. Businesses are faced with main challenges such as corporate transparency, customer loyalty, labour shortage, resource scarcity and waste management, regulatory compliance, financial uncertainty and sustainable growth. Whether you run a global or local business, the scrutiny and expectations by stakeholders and the public have never been higher,” he added.

Companies and young CSR leaders were also recognised for their CSR efforts at the awards. A group of students from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) clinched the top prize at the CDL-Singapore Compact Young CSR Leaders Awards 2013, which is a competition for tertiary students to create CSR strategies for the competition’s participating SMEs.

NTU’s group, called ‘Team Chasers’ won for their innovative CSR strategies for Sin Hwa Dee, a producer of sauces and pre-mixes, that included a nationwide stakeholder engagement exercise on the importance of a healthy diet and initiatives to reduce resource consumption and generate cost savings.  

Singapore Compact has been targeting the youth in its outreach efforts in recent years. Last year, it launched the Youth Membership Network with the National Youth Achievements Award Council (NYAA), and earlier this year, an inaugural CSR Youth Forum was launched to engage youths on CSR.

Mr Kwek said: “I have always believed in the potential of youths and the importance of cultivating their passion for CSR. My vision for the Singapore Compact Youth Membership Network is to nurture a civic-minded generation who can champion responsible business practices.”

Property firm Keppel Land and co-operative NTUC Fairprice were also among organisations recognised for awards such as ‘Green Champion’ and ‘Best Community Developer’.

Winners of the 3rd CDL-Singapore Compact Young CSR Leaders Award:

  • First Prize: Team Chasers (Nanyang Technological University) for Sin Hwa Dee Foodstuff Industries Pte Ltd
  • Second Prize: Team Springboards (National University of Singapore) for Matex International Ltd
  • Third Prize: Team Endeavour (INSEAD) for Asia Capital Holdings Pte Ltd

Singapore Compact CSR Awards Winners 2013

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

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