Panellists (L to R): Mok Chee Hong, CSR Ambassador, Fuji Xerox Singapore; Thomas Thomas, Executive Director, Singapore Compact; Donna Imson, RYTHM Foundation Trustee and QI Group Director of Digital Media & Communications; Jason Khor, Corporate Communications, NatSteel Holdings;
and Raymond Davids, Founder, d-Bodhi Pte Ltd.
Singapore, 31 May 2012 – It’s perfectly fine for companies to make huge profits, as long as it’s through ethical means and giving back to society, by supporting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.
This was the opinion of RYTHM Foundation Trustee and QI Group Director of Digital Media & Communications, Donna Imson, in a riveting panel discussion, How Values Drive Business. The discussion was co-organised by the QI Group and Singapore Compact, a national society championing CSR, to discuss the fine line between making profits and staying true to corporate values.
Ms Donna addressing the audience.
“When the QI Group was founded in 1998, we decided to allocate a percentage of our revenue towards charitable causes,” said Ms Donna, who is part of the Group’s founding team. “At the time, we hadn’t even started making profits, and CSR wasn’t quite the buzz word it is now. But giving back to society was something that has always been important to QI’s founders, and we were determined to put it into practice when the time came.”
This sentiment was shared by the other panellists: Mok Chee Hong, CSR Ambassador, Fuji Xerox Singapore; Raymond Davids, Founder, d-Bodhi Pte Ltd; and Jason Khor, Corporate Communications, NatSteel Holdings. The panel was moderated by Singapore Compact Executive Director, Thomas Thomas.
When it comes to philanthropy, Ms Donna believes that companies should adopt and support social enterprises to encourage a more sustainable and impactful form of philanthropy, what she calls, “the next phase in CSR”.
The QI Group’s corporate philosophy of Raising Yourself to Help Mankind
is at the heart of its CSR initiatives.
The QI Group is piloting a project in the Philippines, aimed at empowering disadvantaged women with the tools, skills and resources to improve on existing products from the company. “These products would then be plugged back into the business, and sold by QI’s direct selling arm (QNET). So instead of merely giving money, we teach people how to fish, and that’s the direction we’re moving towards.”
There are several corporate volunteering programmes set up by the QI Group to get employees involved in living and breathing its corporate values. One such programme is Footprints, where staff mentor underprivileged kids over a period of 10 months. This has been a big success in Malaysia and Hong Kong, and there are plans to take the programme to other countries where QI operates.
Doing well, doing good, working together.
At the end of the discussion, the speakers were unanimous that CSR is gaining prominence among Asian organisations and called this a positive sign. However, Thomas emphasised that giving back to society is not a foreign concept in Asia.
Agreeing to this, Ms Donna said, “Asian society is very communal and others-centric, and that links back to why we do CSR. At the end of the day, giving back is a way of life in Asia, and an extension of who we are.”