MGMT003: Business, Government and Society
Individual Assignment: Is CSR in Singapore real or lip service?
Is CSR in Singapore real or a lip service?
Since independence, the Singapore government has established several regulations and codes of practices in the fields of corporate governance, industrial relations, safety standards, pollution control etc. and companies are expected to meet these requirements. This had led to the adoption of implicit CSR practices in Singapore companies, with a narrow emphasis on an explicit display of their practices. In such a case, businesses may be practicing CSR without realizing it. This is also a major reason why 60% of Singaporean companies are not aware of CSR. Amongst the 27% of companies which are actually aware of and practicing CSR, their definition of it was “giving back to society” through philanthropy and volunteerism i.e. the Charity Principle of CSR. However in recent times efforts have been made to raise awareness about CSR, as well as promote companies to be explicit about their practices so as to reap the benefits of CSR (Thomas, Thomas, 2009). So in our further analysis, we will discuss the genuineness implicit and/or explicit CSR practices for companies in the retail and communications sectors. Retail sector : We will be analyzing CSR practices by Charles & Keith and NTUC FairPrice. We acknowledge that FairPrice is a much larger company than the former; hence we will be evaluating the sincerity and relevance of the companies’ practices, not the scale and volume of their practices. Charles & Keith is reputed to be one of the most marketable fashion footwear brands in today’s international scheme. With respect to CSR it claims to place great importance on humanitarian issues, human excellence and environmental initiatives. In 2012, Charles & Keith launched a nail polish called “Paint It pink” in support of Breast Cancer Foundation. They believed that this would be “the perfect product for every shoe lover and beauty junkie”. A part of the proceeds were donated to Breast Cancer Foundation, Singapore ("Paint it pink," 2012). This is a clear case of enlightened self-interest, where the company engages in CSR practices for enhanced reputation and global community support. Although self-interest is not always criticized, in the case of Charles & Keith, the breast cancer awareness program seems to focus more on selling “pretty products” rather than emphasizing on a disease that affects a significant proportion of the female population. It seems like the company has merely used the “We support Breast Cancer” tagline as a means of promoting a new product line. In 2013, Charles & Keith pledged to turn off non-essential lights in all retail stores on Earth Hour if the brand got 100,000 “likes” on a social networking site, wherein each “like” had to be supported by the promise that the individual would switch off lights at home as well ("Corporate social responsibility," 2013). Although this was a good way of spreading awareness about sustainable living, the company failed to be a leader and take the initiative to adopt greener practices as it promised to take action only if it got a minimum number of “likes”. It should have focused on serving as an example of what practices should be adopted, rather than promoting its brand image by getting more “likes”. Charles & Keith, therefore, displays a significant level of hypocrisy when it comes to its charitable activities. It seems to use social service as a tool of serving its own profit driven interests. NTUC FairPrice is Singapore’s largest supermarket chain, and practices CSR through responsible retailing, community care, promoting a sustainable environment as well as creating a wonderful workplace. The company focuses on not only being “the best place to shop”, but also being the best corporate citizen. In 1983 FairPrice launched the Share-A-Textbook project and ever since its inception the company has collected $2...
References: Thomas, Thomas. CSR Singapore Style. (2009).Social Space. , 54-55. Social Space
Paint it pink. (2012, September). Retrieved from http://www.charleskeith.com/media/CharlesKeith/press/corporate/pr-csr-2012-breastcancer.html
Corporate social responsibility. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.charleskeith.com/CK/corporate social responsibility?lang=en
Community care. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.csr.fairprice.com.sg/community-care.html
Sustainable environment. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.csr.fairprice.com.sg/sustainable-environment.html
Wonderful workplace. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.csr.fairprice.com.sg/wonderful-workplace.html
Corporate social responsibility. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.pacnet.com/about-pacnet/corporate-social-responsibility
Project silverline. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://info.singtel.com/personal/silverline
Corporate sustainability. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://info.singtel.com/annualreport/2013/corporate-sustainability/corporate-sustainability.html
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