The number of companies that join agencies to offer community services has jumped almost fourfold in four years under a matching programme.
A total of 963 employers, including statutory organisations such as the Airport Authority and Hongkong Post, have been nominated by their agency partners as 'caring companies' by the end of last year, compared with only 259 companies in December 2002 when the programme was officially launched by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service.
The Caring Company scheme provides a match-making platform for agencies to link with businesses to jointly carry out voluntary social services and provide job training, instead of simply appealing for cash donations.
The companies, who were nominated after carrying out community services with charities for at least one year, will be awarded a Caring Company emblem as model employers. Like the recipients of the Tourist Board's Q-Mark, awarded for quality merchandise and services, the companies can display the label on their shop window or include it with their logo.
Council chairman Bernard Charnwut Chan said the programme was aimed at fostering a spirit of benevolence in the community.
Most newcomers were small and medium-sized companies, as many big corporations had already joined the scheme, said Cliff Choi Kim-wah, the council's business director for sector development and partnership.
Mr Choi attributed the big jump in the number of participants to a change in mindset in the welfare sector, which he said became more willing to reach out to businesses for co-operation.
The number of agencies joining the partnership programme has also almost doubled from 67 in 2002-03 to about 120 this year.
'Five years ago there was still a lot of mistrust in agencies towards the private sector, with the suspicion that firms wanted to use them to promote their business.
'But this kind of mindset has changed. Instead of simply seeing business sectors as donors, agencies also ask private companies to participate directly in their activities. So their relationship is partnership rather than a donor-recipient relationship,' Mr Choi said.