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A Sustainable Development for Businesses


What CSR Means to a Finance Professional

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not about how money is spent, rather, it is about how money is made. This paradigm shift that CSR goes further than a pure philanthropic cause was a key takeaway for the finance professionals who converged at the Singapore ManagemenUniversity on 9 June 2011.

0611The inaugural partnership with Singapore Compact began with Mr Thomas Thomas, CEO of the ASEAN CSR Network and the Executive Director of the Singapore Compact, speaking on sustainability from a financial perspective. Mr Thomas shared that CSR is a long-term strategy where principles and values are aligned to the business operations. It is about how one does business and makes profits rather then what happens after. Quoting a few examples like Tata Steel and Fuji Xerox, participants were better able to appreciate how some businesses take the view that earning profits was essential for the well-being of the community and its stakeholders.

The second speaker for the evening was Ms Genevieve Chua, Managing Director of PaperlinX Singapore. Coming from a finance background, Ms Chua related to the participants on why CSR matters, how it works and how it is a worthwhile investment for companies. She emphasises that as the role of the finance function evolves, the finance professional also becomes one of the key drivers for changes within the organisation.

0611_02In her organisation, Ms Chua shared that what they have done for the people within the firm includes setting a workplace safety and health team to look into staff health and safety. In addition, safety is always the first agenda item for discussion at their management meetings. For their suppliers, apart from dealings with Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) suppliers, visits to the suppliers’ sites would be conducted to ensure that suppliers walk the talk.

The community at large today recognises that corporates need to be socially responsible to the employees, community, environment and various stakeholders. This changing mindset drives the success or failure of many businesses today and leaders do need to re-think their long-term strategy to incorporate principles and values for a sustainable business.

*This article has been reproduced with the permission of the writer