In It Together: More Companies Are Rallying Employees, Business And Community Partners To Do Good – The Straits Times

From improving health and financial literacy for children to providing nutritious meals to seniors, Prudential Singapore and CapitaLand continue to support communities who need it now more than ever

Senior business development manager at Prudential Singapore Vicki Koh enjoys making the most of her five days of annual volunteer leave given by the company. 

Besides providing the opportunity for her to give back to the community, it also allows her to “build stronger bonds with my family and colleagues who join me in doing good”. Volunteering, she adds, helps instil important values such as empathy and compassion in her daughter that will serve her well for a lifetime.

For its strong volunteering culture as well as community engagement efforts, Prudential Singapore was recognised as a Champion of Good in 2018 and 2020.

A national recognition initiative by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC)’s Company of Good, Champions of Good recognises organisations that are exemplary in doing good, and have been multipliers by engaging their partners and stakeholders on a collaborative journey. 

NVPC’s director of Outreach and Partnerships Lenard Pattiselanno says: “The pandemic and the resultant economic downturn have undoubtedly negatively affected businesses. However, many companies rose above their own challenges, and found greater motivation to uplift communities who need support more than ever. 

“The hope is for more organisations to be inspired by these Champions of Good to discover new possibilities in doing good, and for the network of Champions to continue to multiply. We also encourage and challenge businesses to reflect and act on the business imperative of what corporate purpose means to their organisation, becoming a force for good for society and the environment.”

Working together to drive social impact

CapitaLand, recognised as a Champion of Good in 2017, 2018 and 2020, firmly believes that collaboration is key to driving positive change and social impact. Its philanthropic arm CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF) works closely with various charity organisations, and advocates active volunteerism among employees as an integral part of building a caring and inclusive community.

Besides rallying its staff and tenants, shoppers of CapitaLand malls are also encouraged to join in the company’s efforts in doing good via its digital platforms.  

For instance, CHF pledged to donate S$5 to participating charities and social enterprises for each item shoppers purchased through #iShop4Good on CapitaLand’s curated digital mall, eCapitaMall, from November to December last year. 

During the circuit breaker, CapitaStar members in Singapore donated using their STAR$® via the CapitaStar app. CHF matched donations dollar-for-dollar, providing over 8,000 meals for the vulnerable community under the CapitaLand #MealOnMe initiative.

One of CHF’s community outreach programmes to benefit from meaningful collaborations is the #LoveOurSeniors initiative, which aims to improve the quality of life of seniors through better nutrition, enhanced well-being and improved living conditions.

Since March last year, CHF has been working with community partners such as Dorcas Home Care Services, Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities, TOUCH Community Services and hospitality school SHATEC to provide specially curated healthy meals for over 1,100 seniors. 

Mr Tan Seng Chai, executive director of CHF who is also chief corporate and people officer of CapitaLand Investment, notes: “More than 380 staff volunteers, as well as 870 tenant and community volunteers, contributed their time to deliver over 6,300 meals and 9,750 loaves of bread. They also packed and delivered close to 2,900 essential care packs, and helped improve the living conditions of four seniors’ homes. 

“We are looking to work with more partners and tenants to expand our support for the seniors.”

The ongoing programme reaches out to seniors in the community who are in need of support, with healthy meals being distributed monthly.

Prudential Singapore, too, is touching the lives of seniors in a different way: empowering them to learn new skills. It developed a six-week Seniors’ Wellbeing Masterclass programme last year to impart basic digital skills as well as nutritional tips to seniors. 

Working with AMKFSC Community Services, Goodlife!, Lions’ Befrienders and Tembusu Senior Activity Centre, Prudential Singapore tailored the curriculum to include topics in the arts, nutrition and digital literacy.

Ms Tan Ping Ping, head of Corporate Affairs at Prudential Singapore, says: “Our volunteers also conducted exercise and game sessions for the seniors to promote active ageing. These sessions are done throughout the year with various groups of seniors to impart digital skills and nutritional knowledge to the seniors so that they can take charge of their own well-being.”

Caring for communities adds value for businesses

Both the elderly and the young have benefitted from the programmes organised by these two companies.  

With a focus on enhancing health and financial literacy for children, Prudential Singapore champions early childhood nutrition through its Healthy with KidSTART initiative and Cha-Ching programme, respectively.

A collaboration between KidSTART Singapore and Prudential, Healthy with KidSTART provides resources and guidance for parents on preparing nutritious meals for their children, to promote healthy eating habits among young children.  Beneficiaries also receive recipe cards and access to virtual nutrition workshops to teach them how to prepare healthy meals. 

Cha-Ching is a financial literacy programme developed by Prudential’s regional community investment arm, Prudence Foundation, for children aged seven to 12. Trained staff volunteers play an active role in helping kids learn about the four key money management concepts: Earn, Save, Spend and Donate to help them cultivate better financial planning habits in adulthood.

Ms Tan says: “Companies which place an emphasis on community investment tend to be more successful in the long run because it is better perceived by its customers, employees and various stakeholders.”

Collaboration between all parties involved is also crucial in running successful and effective community investment programmes. “By working together, we can tap on the full potential of our collective resources, footprint and expertise to tackle social issues and make a greater impact in the community,” she adds. 

As for CapitaLand, its commitment to protecting the environment for future generations has seen the organisation take active steps towards environmental outreach in hopes of instilling in the young the importance of protecting the planet and inspiring them to do their part to combat climate change. 

Through its CapitaLand Environmental Education Programme launched last year, staff volunteers conducted engaging storytelling and interactive activities to teach children about climate change issues and how they can adopt an environmentally friendly lifestyle through reducing, recycling and upcycling food waste. 

In virtual sessions held last October and November, about 300 children participated in the programme. They are pre-school students from My First Skool centres, as well as children who took part in reopening activities by Choa Chu Kang Public Library as part of Green Grove, a S$500,000 green showcase supported by CHF to cultivate environmental awareness among the public.

CapitaLand’s Mr Tan shares: “In line with our corporate purpose, CapitaLand remains committed to enriching lives, building communities and growing sustainably in communities where we operate. 

“We find a sense of purpose in giving back to society as we contribute to the environmental and social well-being of the communities. We hope to continue to do good together with our staff, partners and customers, and build a sustainable and inclusive society for future generations.”

A rallying call for more businesses to come on board 

Since the Champions for Good initiative was launched in 2017, 97 unique companies have been named Champions. The number looks set to continue growing as “more companies are starting to embody corporate purpose as part of their core business”, says NVPC’s Mr Pattiselanno.

Indeed, a sense of purpose or meaning is frequently the reason for why companies choose to do good. Prudential Singapore says its community investment initiatives are aligned to its “purpose which is to help people get the most out of life”, while CHF states that it “finds a sense of purpose in contributing to the betterment of society”.

Moving forward, NVPC is embarking on a journey to define what corporate purpose means in the Singapore context, and is building a purpose-driven business community through the Alliance for Action on Corporate Purpose (AfA-CP). 

After being recognised as Champions of Good, CapitaLand and Prudential Singapore have joined other like-minded business leaders as members of the AfA-CP, sharing their experience and expertise in the movement towards corporate purpose. 

“The aim is to enable Singapore-based firms to become resilient, sustainable and value-creating, cultivating a future where every organisation in Singapore is purpose-driven and strives to make a net positive impact on society, across environmental, human, social and economic dimensions,” says Mr Pattiselanno.

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