At Hong Kong property investment firm Hysan Development staff are showing an increased awareness in corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues, asking questions about what the company is doing to be socially responsible, or what opportunities they offer for employees to help the local community.
CSR is also becoming pivotal in recruitment, as potential employees are increasingly concerned about issues embraced under its banner.
'Students really care about helping people, they care about the environment. These students want to work for companies that are responsible and that care about the environment, the community and their staff,' said Mark Tung head of corporate communications at Hysan Development.
The company has developed a two-pronged approach to CSR. Firstly, it is committed to being a responsible company through the fair treatment of its staff, through attention to health and safety issues and a commitment to the highest ethical standards in the conduct of its business.
These ethical standards are applied to the company's core activities. Steps are taken to reduce its carbon footprint both in its offices and in the buildings it manages and develops. It has refined its use of energy by changing to water-cooled air-conditioning systems, by altering the use of its lighting operations, escalators and elevators and by recycling. It also keeps abreast of rapidly advancing green technology and takes full advantage of this in the buildings it is developing.
Secondly, Hysan commits to CSR through its community investment and by running several projects aimed at helping people in need. The company has decided the best way to develop the CSR programmes is to support specific areas with its expertise and manpower, rather than simply offering financial support.
One of the company's main focuses is to help disadvantaged young people to expand their horizons. Last year, it kicked-off a series of community projects with its 'Music in the Green City' event, bringing together a group of schools in Tin Shui Wai with The Chung Ying Theatre Company for a successful musical event. Out of this came the 'Arts Tour', where artists, designers and architects presented schoolchildren with special effects shows, costume-making workshops and drama performances over two days at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. On two occasions, at Christmas and during the school's summer break, the Arts Tour has brought together 200 students, theatre company representatives and volunteers from Hysan.
The company also runs an Ethnic Youth Enhancement Scheme (EYES), which is a life skills programme for young people from ethnic minorities. Speakers and counsellors invited by Hysan to volunteer their time are top professionals in the fields of human resources, public relations, finance, property management, journalism and catering. They include successful ethnic minority businesspeople.
Over 10 weekly sessions these cover interviewing etiquette and skills, workplace communications, basic personal financial knowledge, and participation in in-depth discussions on several career fields. The programme includes a weekend orienteering camp where young people learn how to deal with unfamiliar situations.
'Plans are afoot to expand the programme next summer to include ethnic Chinese students who will provide further stimulus for the exchange of culture and ideas,' Mr Tung said.
Hysan's formalised CSR policy has been in place for a year, and the company has already been recognised for its achievements in this arena. EYES won the Best Practice Management Corporate Social Responsibility award last year and the company's overall achievements dealing with environmental, staff and community issues have earned it a finalist's place in the Hong Kong Council of Social Services Total Caring award.
Despite this recognition, Mr Tung said that his company's CSR strategy was not a marketing tool. 'It is just something we believe in. This company really does walk the talk and I am very happy about that,' he said.
There is a corporate social responsibility article for the HR Trends column on the last Saturday of each month
Hysan embarks on a formalised CSR policy
The policy embraces core values, treatment of staff, responsibility to the environment and to the local community
Specific areas of the community are supported with expertise and manpower, with a focus on helping disadvantaged young people to broaden their horizons
Staff react positively to the caring company image