Chor Khieng Yuit
SINGAPORE – Companies can do well by doing good – this was the key message from the Steward Leadership Summit, which was held at the Shangri-La Singapore on Wednesday.
Steward leadership is born out of a desire to pursue a corporate agenda beyond profit-making, and it permeates every part of the organisation, from its business model to its strategy and corporate culture, said Mr Rajeev Peshawaria, chief executive of Stewardship Asia Centre, a non-profit organisation set up by Temasek Holdings.
He added that the goal is to create a better future for all stakeholders, including the society, the environment and future generations.
Speaking at the summit, Temasek Holdings chairman Lim Boon Heng said a mindset shift is needed to drive everyone to work together towards “creating that collective better future”.
He added that this better future requires everyone, regardless of their roles in society, to step up to play their part and do the right thing.
“This will help ensure that we leave this world in a better shape for the current and future generations,” he said.
Mr Lim also unveiled the inaugural list of 25 companies that were honoured on Wednesday for doing well by doing good. They are from diverse industries, including financial services, transportation, agribusiness and real estate.
There was a good mix of multinational companies (MNCs), small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and social enterprises, which were chosen from 95 submissions across the Asia-Pacific region.
“It is heartening to see the smaller players saying, ‘we will not have as big an impact as, say, Microsoft, but we will do the right thing’,” he added.
Speaking at a panel discussion at the event, Ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh highlighted the three local banks, DBS, OCBC and UOB, and two real estate developers CapitaLand Investment and City Developments, for special mention.
Professor Koh mentioned that “because of the nefarious activities of American banks and inadequate supervision by regulators, we have the 2008 global financial crisis”.
He said the three Singapore banks have been an exception, and saluted them for supporting environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, sustainable development and the fight against climate change.
“I commend DBS and OCBC for the decision to stop funding the coal industry. I commend OCBC for its deep commitment to sustainability,” he added.
Noting that while real estate developers are “seen as killer of trees and destroyers of our natural environment”, Prof Koh said CapitaLand and City Developments have done the right thing by championing sustainability.
CapitaLand was recognised for innovating sustainability for the built environment while City Developments was honoured for constructing collaborative spaces to empower sustainability.
All the honourees, whether big companies or small ones, from different industries, have a common thread, said Mr Peshawaria.
“They do not do it because of regulation, reporting or any other kind of pressures. They do it because there is a genuine leadership intent to create a better future for our children, for the next generation, because otherwise, there will be no planet left in less than 20 years,” he added.
The Steward Leadership 25 list will be expanded to cover more parts of Asia over the next four to five years, with South Korea expressing interest in participating in 2023, said Mr Peshawaria.
The inaugural list is made up mostly of companies from Singapore and other parts of South-east Asia. Further down the road, the Stewardship Asia Centre might consider extending the listing to companies globally.
The 25 companies in the list
- Angkas, Philippines
- Avtar Group, India
- Ayala Corporation, Philippines
- BNP Paribas Asset Management, Singapore
- CapitaLand Investment, Singapore
- City Developments, Singapore
- DBS Bank, Asia-Pacific
- Faber-Castell, Asia-Pacific
- Farm Fresh, Malaysia
- Foreword Coffee, Singapore
- Genashtim, Singapore
- GUAVA Amenities, Asia-Pacific
- Mandai Wildlife Group, Indonesia
- Marico, India
- Mirvac Group, Australia
- Noburo Platform, Thailand
- OCBC Bank, Singapore
- reach52, Asia-Pacific
- Sunway Group, Malaysia
- Tata Consultancy Services, Singapore
- Thai Wah Public Company, Thailand
- The Social Kitchen, Singapore
- UAL Biotech, Asia-Pacific
- UBS, Asia-Pacific
- UOB, Asia-Pacific