"CR is all about making a sustainable difference"

Written by Edwin Nevis | Updated: Sep 29 2008, 04:59am hrs
I have always believed that there should be both a strong moral and a business case for engaging in social responsibility. While the moral case is about doing the right thing, it is also clear that a business performs best when its business goals are founded on its core values and it engages in responsible operations in the community in which it operates. I am not surprised that the business community worldwide is laying so much emphasis on corporate responsibility (CR) and considering it a key indicator of non-financial performance such as reputation. Customers seek association with companies that do some kind of societal good. Such organisations are also increasingly becoming employers of choice, as the candidates see responsible business as a commitment of the companys value proposition.

The key drivers behind a business include: building a good brand and reputation; being an employer of choice; having and maintaining a strong market position; earning the trust of the financial markets and increasing shareholder value. For a company like ours, a bank, it also includes innovation in developing new products and services and entering new markets. What matters, however, is how we go about achieving these goals. It is becoming increasingly clear that companies hardly have a choice in these matters anymore. What used to be considered window dressing for community relations is in fact today linked to how profits are made and how practices are driven.

To be committed to CSR is not easy. It is an unfolding journey; it is about ensuring that we leave behind indelible impressions on the society, something sustainable, and something that can make a lasting difference to the community in which we operate. At Scope International, we believe and focus on a community strategy that has long term, sustainable and measurable benefits for the community; utilises our core expertise, networks and resources; maximises opportunities for employee engagement and skills development and aligns with government and other key stakeholder priorities.

We operate community initiatives at two levels: global programmes such as Seeing is Believing, and Living with HIV that are led by the Standard Chartered Group. We emphasise on employees being involved by using their skills, core services, talents, products and knowledge. CSR here is not mere cheque book philanthropy. If the CR factor is a top driver of workplace engagement, then I can proudly say Scope is already an industry leader. Internal surveys among employees say it loud and clear that more the company is involved in the community, the more they like it.

The writer is CEO, Scope International, wholly owned subsidiary of Standard Chartered Bank