40% of Singapore firms aware of social responsibility: Poll

Straits Times 7 Oct 08;

THE concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has made only modest inroads with local firms, with just four out of 10 familiar with the process.

Larger enterprises are also twice as likely to be aware of it compared with small and medium-sized enterprises, according to a survey commissioned by the Trade and Industry Ministry.

More than 500 companies responded to the survey conducted by the Singapore Compact for CSR, which wanted to gauge how firms perceive the concept, how important they regard it, the state of CSR activity as well as future plans and challenges.

There are varying definitions of CSR but it usually describes the culture of companies giving back to society and the environment in which they operate and make their profits.

'CSR is still a new initiative in Singapore compared to other advanced economies,' said Singapore Business Federation chief executive Teng Theng Dar.

Of the 40 per cent who are aware of CSR, about two-thirds have activities in sustainable development, fair employment and philanthropy. They said their main motivation was to foster corporate culture and enhance branding and reputation.

Those who knew of the concept but did not implement it felt it was irrelevant to their business or they lacked the necessary resources.

CSR has been receiving increasing attention worldwide as companies position themselves for greater transparency and accountability on their performance on society and environmental issues - in addition to financial performance - to gain the trust of stakeholders.

YANG HUIWEN

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