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Press Release: Creating Resilient Strategies for Singapore Businesses

Junice Yeo

Press Release: Creating Resilient Strategies for Singapore Businesses

Corporate sustainability may be an increasingly hot topic among corporations and consumers in Singapore; but certain issues are still not making it to board-level discussions. These are some of findings from the latest global study carried out by global sustainability consultancy, Corporate Citizenship. This year-long study, which involved 16 multinationals – including Singapore’s very own City Developments Limited (CDL), Sembcorp Industries and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel) – shed light on the challenges faced by business continuity teams today as they strive to create resilient and sustainable strategies.

Amongst the most likely reasons which prevent companies from creating resilient strategies; disruptive market forces are a key challenge, with companies often failing to anticipate these forces early enough. These include natural or man-made disasters that affect commodity supplies, changes in consumer behaviour, government policies and regulations, or emerging competitors. Singapore is no stranger to these challenges. With the onset of the worst haze pollution on record last year, the government was swift to take action in rolling out a legislation to make it an offence for any entity – Singaporean and non-Singaporean – to cause or contribute to trans-boundary haze pollution in Singapore.

In addition to new legislation, the pervasion of online social media has inadvertently made companies increasingly susceptible to public scrutiny and backlash. Understanding developments such as shifting power structures and new social relationships is therefore vital for companies to develop successful strategies.

‘Understanding relationships with society is key for companies facing global challenges’

One of the opportunities in which companies can better anticipate disruptive forces, is to secure a firm understanding of its business relationship with society. Society refers to the external players who affect the business – governments, customers, suppliers, interest groups, media, and even competitors. Extensive public consultations and stakeholder engagement processes are some of the common ways in which organizations today, including governments and ministries, seek to understand their relationships with society better.

“As the world’s centre of gravity shifts east, a massive and powerful new audience of consumers will have their own views on the responsibilities of companies so the future flows of knowledge will be two-way and Singapore companies will have a role in building on those insights,” said Karin Mortensen Laljani, Managing Director of Corporate Citizenship, who was in Singapore last week for the launch of the Creating Resilient Strategies in Asia research.

According to Esther An, Chief Sustainability Officer at City Developments Limited (CDL), the process of engagement with the people who affect its business is an opportunity. “Every encounter with our stakeholders is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression.” Recognized in many global standards such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, FTSE 4 Good Index, and among the 100 Most Sustainability Corporations in the World, CDL prides itself as a trailblazer in corporate sustainability, but also acknowledges that it is “worthwhile being the guinea pig” in its position as a market leader.

SingTel, a leader in the region in the telecommunications industry with over 500 million mobile customers in 25 countries, recognized this important step in strategic planning. “If you know the priorities of your stakeholders, there may be sweet-spots for win-win opportunities and to create shared value” remarked Andrew Buay, Vice President, Group CSR at SingTel who has been with the company for over 20 years.

A good example in Singapore in which complex relationships with society are being studied, is the government’s efforts in driving the Singapore Conversation.  The year-long exercise, personally announced and results shared by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong himself, involved some 46,000 Singaporeans from all walks of life.  As Singapore celebrates its 50th birthday next year, the SG50 ‘The Hands that Built our Nation’ movement is one such collaborative approach. Through various media platforms, SG50 efforts garner ideas and feedback from businesses and the general public; this example shows a tremendous effort by the Singapore government to keep its dialogue with its stakeholders open.

“It is a positive surprise to see how many companies have started taking the wider context into consideration when developing their long-term strategies. And in Singapore, the case is clearly even stronger with the business and governmental relationships. It can only be a positive outcome for the prosperity of the Singaporean economy and to the next 50 years.” said Ms. Laljani.

For further information or a meeting with Corporate Citizenship (Singapore) please contact Junice Yeo at junice.yeo@corporate-citizenship.com or call +65 6836 9098.

Notes:

  • Creating Resilient Strategies’ was released in July 2014. It is available to the public, and can be downloaded on Corporate Citizenship’s website.

Companies involved in the research:

  • Bank of Montreal (BMO) (Canada)
  • Cisco Systems, Inc. (Europe)
  • City Developments Limited (Singapore)
  • Con Agra Foods, Inc. (US)
  • Imperial Tobacco Group PLC (UK)
  • Jaguar Land Rover Limited (UK)
  • Johnson Matthey Plc (UK)
  • Lend Lease Corporation Limited (UK)
  • Mars, Inc. (US)
  • McGraw Hill Financial, Inc. (US)
  • National Grid plc (UK)
  • Sembcorp Industries Ltd (Singapore)
  • Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singapore)
  • United Airlines, Inc. (US)
  • United Utilities Groups PLC (UK)
  • Xylem Inc. (US)

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