Companies show their caring side

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 July, 2011, 12:00am


It's usually referred to as corporate social responsibility - or CSR - but the reality runs far deeper than any mere buzz term. All over Hong Kong, Canadian companies are contributing to the community, with financial directors writing cheques and staff donating their free time, doing their bit to make the city a better place.

Manulife is a prime example. The financial services company has sponsored the Manulife Centre for Children with Specific Learning Disabilities at Polytechnic University since its establishment in 1999. The Manulife Charitable Foundation's donation of more than HK$8 million over the past 11 years has helped the centre hold more than 300 seminars, workshops and training programmes for 8,000 local students with various educational special needs, and provided training to 6,000 parents, teachers and other in-service professionals.

Just as importantly, many Manulife volunteers spend their Saturdays giving guidance to children undertaking the English and Chinese literacy programme organised by the centre.

'[Manulife] is resolutely proactive in sponsorship initiatives and other charitable endeavours, giving the bulk of its help to those least able to help themselves - the young, the elderly, the sick and the disadvantaged,' says Helena Lee, Manulife's head of corporate communications in Hong Kong. For the ninth consecutive year, the company was named a 'Caring Company' by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service.

Another major Canadian firm, the commercial brokerage Colliers International, came up with an innovative idea for CSR.

On a designated day, all Colliers offices throughout Asia close and staff help with a worthy project. Dubbed 'Out for Good', the campaign is run in conjunction with a website that allows employees to nominate worthy causes they feel would benefit from their assistance.

'Out For Good is Colliers' way of giving back to the communities which we operate in - to help organisations and people that others in the community feel need a helping hand,' says Patricia Ooi, a spokeswoman for Colliers which is also a 'Caring Company'.

'Often, those that require assistance the most do not have the resources to ask for help. By setting up this site, we hope to create a space where anyone can nominate a worthy cause and speak up for those who cannot.'