How can corporates create social impact? Cases from Asia and beyond

Date

October 8, 2015

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By Mila Devenport

AVPN organized a series of workshops early this September on Corporate Social Impact Strategies (CSIS) led by Steven Serneels (Co-researcher, EVPA Corporate Social Impact Strategies; Impact Investor, SI2 Fund). We travelled to Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and invited local speakers to join in the conversation.

In Taipei, we spoke at the first Strategic CSR Conference organized by our newly joined member Foundation for Talented Youth in collaboration with Global Shapers Taiwan. Local corporates in Taiwan have a mandate to spend 2% of their profits into corporate social responsibility related activities and many of them are very interested to learn how to do this more strategically. In KL, we were joined by Puan Sri Maimon of Hap Seng Group, who shared with us their company ethos, which permeated to how they treat their employees and the communities in which they work in/with. Margie Ong of Thoughts in Gear also spoke about how Malaysian companies like Digi incorporate Shared Value into their corporate campaigns.

The Singapore workshop featured guest speakers Shweta Shukla (Director of Communications & Government Affairs, Kimberly Clark – Asia Pacific) and Padmini Pandya (Corporate Strategy APAC, Sapient Nitro). Hosted at the Hub Singapore at their new space on Prinsep Street, more than 30 people attended to hear and participate in discussions surrounding the current global climate of CSR – where “social inclusion is the new ‘green’” – highlighting the potential of a range of models for the commercial world where social impact strategies can and are already enhancing profitability and growth of businesses. Whether it be through the expansion into new market segments or through increasing efficiency of supply chains, the motivations for corporates to consider integrating some form of social responsibility into their activities are increasingly compelling and diverse.

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Kimberley-Clark’s Shweta Shukla gave the sample of Kimberley-Clark’s efforts in partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to raise awareness among consumers of the importance of sourcing tissue, paper and timber products from responsibly-managed forests. By moving to clearly label environmental sourcing on all their Australian manufactured goods, Kimberley-Clark has not only witnessed increased awareness among consumers of sustainability certification standards, but also has enjoyed the differentiation from its competitors that such branding lends. Padmini Pandya from Sapient Nitro, an international creative, brand and technology company, spoke on how at Sapient Nitro’s Singapore-based Alpha Lab Asia – the organization’s R&D platform through which it identifies potential in nascent technologies – technologies and cross-brand partnerships are increasing interactive and emotive experiences of charitable giving by enabling a user to convert and donate their wearable-tracked steps into real prosthetic limbs for a beneficiary child in another part of the world.

A group workshop rounded out the event, where workshop participants were asked to examine case studies of an Indian construction and housing company and a French dairy company operating in Vietnam who have integrated social responsibility into their models to enhance profitability and efficiency