Suggestion for govt to set up agency to monitor CSR

A Singapore organisation that advocates corporate social responsibility (CSR) has suggested the government set up a cross-discipline agency that oversees the area.

The Singapore Compact said this will allow for a more macro view and consolidated approach.

Corporate social responsibility is about having responsible business practices whether within the organisation or towards the larger community.

At the fourth International CSR Summit, four companies were awarded for their good practices in the areas of community development, green initiatives and hiring practices.

The four companies winners are NTUC FairPrice Co-operative (Best Workplace Award); CapitaLand (Best Community Developer Award); Natsteel Holdings (Green Champion Award) and Adrenalin Events and Education (Caring Employer Award).

NTUC FairPrice Co-operative’s chief executive officer Seah Kian Peng, said: “We tried to be inclusive employer and indeed, many different groups of people are with us – young and old. In fact, I would say we have a more mature workforce, which we find it an asset. In fact, more than 40 per cent of our workforce is more than 50 years old.”

CapitaLand’s deputy chief corporate officer Tan Seng Chai said his organisation “provide support in areas of education, area of accommodation and medical healthcare to underprivileged children.”

“As part of our credo of building people, it will be very consistent by providing such support to the children as the future,” said Mr Tan.

Companies were encouraged to practise CSR, with senior management taking the lead.

Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said: “It is really about building a home with a heart, and that’s what it’s all about, not just at an individual level but certainly at a community level. I would suggest that in many ways, community includes all businesses as well.

“And I do believe, honestly, that when we begin to give of ourselves back to society, when we begin to look beyond self, whether it’s individuals or companies, I think we begin to change as a nation and we begin to change society as well.”

One suggestion is for the government to set up an agency to oversee CSR.

Singapore Compact’s president Kwek Leng Joo, said: “For example, for the building and construction industries, in the context of CSR, Building Construction Authority may not be the only agency involved, or for that matter, Ministry of National Development. There are areas that the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources should be involved. So today, one may have to deal with two different ministries on just a single effort.”

Mr Kwek said companies with limited resources may feel discouraged if they need to approach multiple agencies to roll out CSR initiatives.

“With an umbrella body to spearhead efforts in planning and implementing national CSR policies with a more dedicated and strategic approach, businesses will be more encouraged to align their strategies and practices to national priorities,” said Mr Kwek.

Mr Seah welcomed the idea.

“It’s an excellent idea. I think for any approach which can simplify matters, can shorten the time that’s required for anyone who’s seeking information, I think will be welcomed by any organisation,” he said.

He added: “So if we have that, new companies which have yet to embark on the CSR journey, but will allow them to know things faster, quicker, and also put them to join this journey.”

This article was first published in CNA